When is the Best Time to Buy Textbooks?

By Brittany Hawes on July 6, 2018

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, or “that girl”, but this just in–classes wait for no one! Before you know what’s hit you, these happy, carefree summer days will have melted away like a frothy, salty wave or your favorite flavor of frozen yogurt. We’ll be left on the shore, wearing swimsuits and matching looks of horror, as the first day of classes rolls right on in.

It’s good (and extremely healthy) to let go and have fun during the summer, but don’t get so caught up in having a good time that you allow your classes to sneak up on you, Preparing for classes during the summer can save you headaches during the school semester.

What’s one way you can start getting ready for classes right now? You can start by thinking about when is the best time to buy textbooks. Buying textbooks is an art. If you go too early, you might miss out on some great deals. Go too late and you’ll be waiting in line for hours with the two-thirds of your school’s population who also decided to wait until the last moment to buy their textbooks. Wait any later than that and you might face a store that’s sold out of the textbook that your professor has made clear to you is absolutely mandatory.

There are a few times during the year that are just right for buying textbooks. So, let’s get right into “mom-mode”, shall we? Here are the best times to buy textbooks throughout the year, ranked from good to best.

best time to buy textbooks

Image via Pixabay.com

4. The week before classes begin

If you buy your textbooks with some form of financial aid, your best bet is to start buying your books either when you get that email that your financial aid has disbursed into your checking account or that the bookstore is now allowing for students to make purchases using said financial aid.

Buying in-store might get a little hectic during this time, so you might consider buying your books online and picking up your books in-store. In my experience, the line of customers for online pickup has always been considerably shorter than the line for regular checkout.

3. Two-Three weeks before classes are scheduled to begin

If you buy your books the traditional way (in the bookstore), you’ll be happy to hear that you will find next to no crowds in the bookstore during the few weeks before class starts. It’s like a wasteland in there. Maybe people are afraid that classes will abruptly begin if you get within close proximity to a textbook. In any case, I can almost guarantee you that those stores will be nearly empty during your visit.

A less crowded bookstore means that you will have plenty of time to search the shelves for your books and you’ll have someone who doesn’t look like they’re on the verge of running out of the store, screaming, that can help you find what you need.

2. The week after classes begin

Ah, yes. The age-old tactic of waiting until the first week of classes has finished to decide if you’re going to need that pricey textbook or not. Many professors will give students a week or two in advance to get certain books that you’ll be discussing in class. If your professor has told you that you won’t need the textbook after all, then you have saved yourself a hundred dollars or so.

I say that many professors will give you a heads-up to buy your textbook. However, this might not hold true for all professors. If your professor tells you that you’ll need a textbook by, say, the second day of class and you’re empty-handed, you’re going to have a problem.

1. As soon as the syllabus becomes available online (sometime during the summer)

You know what they say—the early bird gets the worm! Or, in your case, gets the textbooks before they start flying off the shelves. Picking up your textbooks now could be a potentially smart move. You can go ahead and get that one headache out of the way now and have the rest of your summer to do just as you please, without that nagging feeling in the back of your head that you’re forgetting to do something. That feeling is the worse.

There’s one problem with this strategy. We’ve all had that one class where you buy the textbook and then you end up never having to flip a page in it. Ever. If you buy your books and it turns out that you don’t need them for the class after all, don’t forget that you can sell back your textbooks in-store and online! Remember, it’s better to be prepared than not have the textbook!

What do you consider to be the best time to buy textbooks? Share your experiences with others by commenting below! Thanks for reading and best of luck!

Hi there! My name's Britt and I'm a senior majoring in English major at Florida State University. I have these crazy, big dreams of traveling the entire world and writing novels in my spare time. I love music, food, and the Japanese culture. I plan on teaching English in Japan upon graduation from Florida State. My first YA novel, Twisted, was published by Deep Sea Publishing Company in 2014. It won a Readers' Favorite Book Award that same year. Alongside schoolwork, I'm working hard on the second book in the Twisted series as well as a number of other novels.

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