Save money when buying books
For a new student with a limited budget the arrival of your first reading lists can be daunting. With so much to read, how will you cope? The following brief pointers will help you take control of your university reading and find all the books you need to read without spending more than necessary.
Stop and read the list
Reading lists vary in length between courses but many lecturers make clear which books are essential reading, (e.g. a bilingual dictionary for a language course) and what is additional reading. Often you will find you only have to purchase the essential reading, and that other books are available in sufficient quantity in the Library.
Visit libraries and bookshops
The University Library should stock at least one copy of every book on your reading list and may hold many copies of key texts. Where they are available, we buy ebook versions of all essential reading list items. These are particularly valuable if you are a distance learner. Distance learners should also check what services we exclusively offer them to make printed items available at a distance.
Buying books online is often cheaper than buying books on the high street but do shop around if you have time. Use a price comparison site to make the most of your money and watch out for special offers and discounts.
Try before you buy
Wherever possible, have a look through any book you plan to buy in a book in a library or bookshop first, to make sure it is written in a style you find easy to understand and that you feel you will be able to learn from it effectively. Different books suit different people. Not every book your tutor recommends will be the best one for you. Particularly when you are given a choice of 2-3 textbooks to choose from, check their contents carefully and pick the one you find best. Check the chapter headings and index terms reflect the course you are studying, to make sure it is going to be relevant to what you will learn. Are there case studies? If you find being given questions to check your understanding helpful, does the book you are considering buying include these? If you cannot find the whole book you want to preview in print, preview what you can find of its contents online using Google Books Preview or Amazon Inside the Book.
Look for second hand books
The Book Nook offers an opportunity to swap books you no longer need for books left behind by students who have moved up a year or graduated, while the Book swap/sale service offers second-hand books for what are often great prices. Amazon Marketplace, Abe Books and Alibris UK also offer second handbooks for sale online.
Get the most from what you buy
Once you have made new friends on your course, talk to them about what you are all reading. If you have each read different books, you can share hints and tips on what you found useful. Insights from other people are often valuable starting points for filling in gaps in your knowledge and understanding.
Need more material?
Everything else you need you can find in the Library. Explore your Subject pages, search the Library Catalogue for books and ebooks and the Discovery Service for journal articles. Remember you can always chat to our friendly library staff for help and advice if you cannot find something or need advice on finding (more of) what you want, as well as how to reference it, online or at the Library Help Desk in the Atrium.
- Eresources cost nothing and weigh nothing. They are great to read on the move. Just download the VPN and you can access our eresources from anywhere over the internet. Almost all journal articles and some ebooks can even be downloaded to read offline, for when the internet is unavailable.
- The public library (and university libraries elsewhere via the SCONUL Access scheme) are also useful resources. Public libraries have more pleasure reading books and often have surprisingly many academic books you might find useful. Portsmouth Public Library ha also stopped charging people for bringing books back late.
- Finally - don't be shy to ask for essential textbooks as Christmas/birthday presents (just make sure the person buying the book knows exactly which one to get!).