The UCI Bookstore is the primary source of coursebooks on campus but is usually the most overpriced.

Coursebooks, located on the lower level of the UCI Bookstore complex, is convenient to campus and maintains coursebooks until halfway through the quarter, when books are sent back and shelves stocked for the upcoming quarter.

Books needed for class can be found either by looking for your class’ shelf at the Bookstore, checking your professor’s syllabus (links can be found through WebSOC or MyEEE, but often only days before the quarter starts), or going to the Coursebooks section of the UCI Bookstore.  Unless indicated otherwise, books don’t need to be purchased too far in advance.  Book lists can change through the week before classes start, so it’s not always significantly beneficial to be too eager.  For the most part, others will recommend you obtain your books after your first class.  This allows for schedule changes, gauging a book’s necessity, and only having to make one trip to the Bookstore.

UCI Bookstore is generally the highest priced venue for books, and the lowest price buyer for book buybacks. However, they are the most convenient and have the best chance of getting the book for you on time before classes begin. UPDATE: The Hill – Price Match Guarantee

That being said, the following are alternatives to the UCI Bookstore:

Option 1: Borrow From Your Fellow Students

Cost: Free!
Downside: Unreliable.

Some clubs or organizations on campus have book swapping programs for their members, so check with club officers if that option is available.

You can also make friends with or date upperclass students within your major and borrow their books. The downside to this is that having sex for coursebooks amounts to prostitution, that may or may not be morally obliging to your beliefs.

Option 2: Buy From Your Fellow Students

Cost: Usually the cheapest option
Downside: Usually involves meeting someone, can be inconvenient to your schedule.

ASUCI sponsors a campus book swap program every quarter, look for a canopy with signs near the bookstore/student center complex at the beginning and end of each quarter. Students with books to sell register and drop off their books, while students looking to buy show up and pay ASUCI, which then acts as a middle-man and pays the bookseller. You follow?

Sites for Swapping Books:

Option 3: Buy Online

Cost: Varies wildly from full retail to extreme discount
Downside: Quality of book may not be as described/expected, shipping costs can outweigh the price difference, may not receive book in a timely manner.

There are MANY sites online dedicated to selling both new and used books (they are listed below). I personally have saved hundreds of dollars buying on these sites (price compared to UCI Bookstore used book price), however the downsides listed above happen more often than you think.

Once or twice, a book has come in AFTER I needed it for a class, and once a book came completely marked up. Most people’s experiences are positive, just exercise caution.

Sites for Renting Books:

Site for Buying books:

  • Amazon.com
    Greatest selection in new and used books, probably my #1
Sites for Renting Books:

Site for Buying books:

  • BarnesAndNoble.com
    The most popular book seller in the world
  • Amazon.com
    Greatest selection in new and used books, probably my #1
  • Half.com
    One of the best selections, categorizes by quality of book, houses both individual sellers and large used book companies.
  • BookByte.com
    Offer free shipping on orders and great selection

Option 4: Just Don’t Buy The Book

Cost: Free!
Downside: Some classes actually need the book, can have homework in it.

Shh, here’s a secret….sometimes you just don’t need the book, period. This was the case when I took Bio Sci 103 (Cell Biology) with Dr. Taagepera, where the book was absolutely not needed to do very well in the class. Most of the time this is not the case, it really depends on the class, so ask around. Not only does it vary by class, it varies by professor.

Also, many professors put coursebooks on reserve at one of the UCI Libraries for students to use. You have a 2 or 24 hour limit in most cases with potential hefty fines if you don’t return the book. Warning: Students have been known to hog these books or tear out important chapters.

Armed with this information, I hope you save lots of money for use in other important things at UCI, such as buying crap from Ikea, paying an over-21 friend to buy you beer, and gas money for all your drunken trips to Tijuana! Adios!

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