Buying books on a budget

For a new student with a limited budget, the arrival of your first reading lists can be daunting but there are ways to ensure you get the books you need for the lowest prices and enjoy the best value for money from the books that you buy:

Be selective.  There are often a number of items on reading lists that are recommended for purchase but in some cases you might be able to get away with reading a print or electronic copy available from the library.  For others, there might be several alternatives recommended.  In such cases, it is always best to find a copy of each book in the library and skim through each to help you decide which appeals to you the most.  Often, you will find that one book is much easier and more fun to read than the others.  Buy that one!  If there are no available copies in the library, try finding excerpts using Google Books previews or the Amazon Inside the book feature.

Use the library.  You often only need to buy a few books for a particular course and these should be identified clearly in your reading lists.  For everything else, there should be sufficient copies in the library and/or an ebook version online that you can read from anywhere with an internet connection, often linked from your reading lists.  

Shop around.  Check prices in your local bookshops, Amazon Marketplace, and AbeBooks at the very least.  Often one platform will have the books you want for sale much more cheaply than the others.  If you need books when your birthday or Christmas are coming up, it might be worth asking friends and relatives for money, specific books, or book vouchers.

Share and share alike.  If you have made the most of the first month or so of your course and acquired new friends on the course as well as new books, talk to them about your reading. You could swap books or, if you have each read different books, you can share your learning, hints and tips on what you found useful and create a study group, in person or online.