Cheap and Easy

It's the beginning of the semester and it's easy to get caught up in the various expenses of school. There are so many things to worry about: parking, gas, class registration fees and for some of us the cost of renting an apartment. But one thing you won't have to worry about any longer is the looming expense related to textbooks and school supplies.

In the modern age we live in now there are so many options to get the best deal when it comes to textbooks. Textbooks can cost so much money - but now there are more places and ways than ever to stretch your dollar and spend less on unavoidable expenses. Here is a list of the top five places to buy textbooks from outside of the college bookstore.

The first place to visit on your quest to save money this semester is online. There are so many great websites and it's worth the effort to search online before buying from the college bookstore. Try visiting It's a search engine that checks websites all over the internet for the lowest prices. Along with the prices of books there is information on the condition of the book, the amount of books the website has, and the amount of time it will take to get your textbook.

The difference in price can sometimes be dramatic. The SMC bookstore website listed the price of an English 2 literature book for a used copy for $68.75, but through the cheapest listing was $51.25, and eBay listed the book for $11.00. In order to find the best deal through this website you should start looking for your books as soon as they become available on the SMC website. The more time spent searching for the best price, the cheaper your total cost will be.

Sometimes search engines like miss a few good deals because there is so much to comb through on the internet. It's a good idea to have a couple of websites handy that don't search the whole internet, but just their own selection. You can save hundreds of dollars using Let's take a look at another book through SMC's website. A used Communications 1 book costs about $72.00 through the bookstore, but on it can be bought for about $35.00. The only problem with purchasing a book online is that you're never sure of its true condition. But it's one of the unavoidable issues of online shopping.

Some people don't want to purchase books online and would prefer to make face-to-face contact with someone. There are plenty of stores around the city that strive to help students locate cheaper copies of their textbooks. Barnes and Noble has become a leading book vendor and to keep up with demand has incorporated Barnes and Noble University to their different book categories where you can search their network of used booksellers for textbooks, or buy used and new items through Barnes and Noble's actual stock. There is the added discount of 10% if you are a Barnes and Noble member, which also helps cut down on costs.

What's nice about going with Barnes and Noble is the luxury of having someone else find the cheapest copy for you. You can call over the phone and have someone search the network, or you can visit a local store and have one of the booksellers find the right price for you. Regional manager Carlos Mendoza from the Barnes and Noble at The Grove in Los Angeles, Calif. feels that Barnes and Noble has really stepped up its game when it comes to competitive prices. "Many students are searching for a good deal on books, and the most logical step forward would be with a branching out into a college sector of books," said Mendoza. The results are satisfyingly cheaper than SMC's. Taking a look at the Communications 1 book again, through Barnes and Noble a book in the condition marked "Like new" sells for $46.97. That's a $25 savings!

One of the stand by used bookstores for SMC students has always been A&R Textbooks across the street from the main campus located at 1703 Pico Blvd. The faded exterior and small location may not look like much from the outside, but if you haven't visited A&R then you are missing out on some more great savings. A used Economics 1 book at SMC costs $138.25, but across the street it only costs $85.50. The savings can really add up over time and the location is so convenient that even if you can't spend the time searching online for hours there is the great gift of A&R across the street from campus.

If your textbook cannot be found, it's sold out or too expensive and you think you are all out of options, there are a few other options available to you. Try the library and check out the book on campus and spend nothing at all. Another option is the Extended Opportunity Program and Services (EOPS) office in the Student Services Building, Room 104. If you're qualified for financial aid and attending school full time you can qualify for a book account which can give you a couple hundred dollars to spend in the bookstore for your books. If that still isn't enough, there is a book loan available for EOPS students as well. It's a great way to borrow books for the semester without paying anything and saving up money for other expenses that will be necessary throughout the year.

Get out there and search for the best deals.