The Textbook Conundrum

With the need to study there is the need for textbooks. Alas, with the ever-increasing preference in nursing education for journal articles in assignments, many students spend hundreds of dollars purchasing textbooks and little time using them .

I like textbooks…actually I love and collect them. I use them as much as I can in my study and love nothing more than being able to go to the library, pull out a book and have it in my hands. However, I have friends that use them as minimally as possible.

The internet has made accessing information for assignments very easy. Unfortunately, Wikipedia is not an acceptable place for information when it comes to university assessments; journal articles that are peer reviewed are the golden ticket! If you can get used to sourcing them then you’re well on your way to improving your GPA.

So how does a student on a tight budget get the quality out of a text?

Firstly check which text you require, including which edition, and get a quote of the full price of the book new.

Next, find out if there is an earlier edition available and how old it is.The golden rule with textbooks is ‘no more than 10 years old, and preferably 5 years’. (The same rule applies to journal articles, by the way).  Always look at the publication date of the edition for clarification (check inside the front few pages). Often the university will be specific about the edition you must use. However, if books are popular the publisher may release a new edition every year with minimal changes – often all that changes are a few page numbers and the cover design! You might be able to check with your university library, lecturer or previous students to determine what has changed in recent editions.

From here you can look on several websites like gumtree, eBay, university textbook group forums or Facebook groups for second hand books. Be aware these will likely have marks or highlighting in them. This is where you use the price of the book new to negotiate the price. Shipping is additional to the book on most occasions.

If no luck there, try some good online stores like book depository or the co-op bookshop they often have texts available without the cost of shipping.

Think outside the square!

Many textbooks come as an online edition or even an app version. This is the future: simple, light and compact. The textbook companies make their money on with this cost also, so be aware they are not free.

You may also want to ask previous students how often they used their textbooks, to save you purchasing something that will remain closed during your course. If it is something that previous students only used for certain parts of the course, perhaps you could borrow a copy from the library. Keep in mind that well used and liked textbooks are in top demand and often hard to come by second hand.

Twice a year Lifeline do a bookfest in my home city of Brisbane. I have found this a great place to get pre-loved nursing texts. This was particularly the case in my first year when I found some incredibly useful texts and saved myself around $80. The downside is they are all lumped together in the reference section amongst accounting, IT, law and economics, which means you have to sift through them and find what you are looking for.

Lifeline Bookfest

Some texts you will love and cherish forever and use in almost every assignment. For example, I consider my Harvard’s Nursing Guide to Drugs my bible and take it with me on every placement. Others you may be able to sell on once you are finished with them.

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