The horribleness that is getting your textbooks

Do not freak out. Normally, getting your textbooks for your classes is super easy. In fact, all three quarters last year began with beautifully orchestrated textbook transactions (and cheap, too!).

This quarter is different. This quarter, the books I have to buy are not only expensive, but also carry a lot of confusing baggage.

I will start off by saying that my anthropology class has two books, which I am buying from my friend, so everything is not totally bad. Next is French, which requires a book that is over $100. One would imagine that this would be an über-thick textbook with a dazzling hardcover, but no, this one is a shrink-wrapped paperback that is not even a centimeter thick. The only thing I can say in its favor is that, I am pretty sure it’s the book for the next two French levels.

Really, that other stuff is not even bad. The real horror was the process of getting my psychology textbook. I’m not the type to pre-order my books from the ASUCLA bookstore even though all of my friends do and constantly tell me how easy it is. Whatever, I don’t fully understand it, and I like waiting in the long checkout line. Every quarter, I head over to Ackerman and find my books under those funny five-letter signs. This quarter, when searching for my Psych 10 material, I came across the books for the other section of Psych 10 (sometimes, one class is being offered at the same time, with different professors, to accommodate more students). The other class got to read two fun books about people going mad. I had a hefty textbook. In my head I thought, “me likey real books, no wanna have dense text.” Unfortunately, this silly internal debate over which class I would enjoy more, made me skip out on buying my textbook. I spent the next day, talking to anyone who would listen about my problem – should I try to switch sections, so that I could read about insanity from two paperbacks, or read about insanity from one hardcover? Eventually, I realized my own insanity and figured the textbook would be awesome. But, of course, the drama could not stop there. When I had gone to Ackerman the first time, I saw that my psych book was offered as an e-book, that could be accessed on the computer. This became my new dilemma- I made sure to go over every pro and con of buying the “e” version versus the real thing. Ultimately, the fact that you could do a “control F” and search the e-book, didn’t convince me that a copy I could hold in my hands, wasn’t the way to go.

So, boom. I’m set. I’ve now decided that I can get the regular book – probably used because it’s cheaper. There is no line in sight, when I get to the bookstore, and I bring my book up the first open counter. This counter turns out to be the place to rent books, not buy. I’m not in any hurry, so I chat with the cashier about the benefits of renting, mull over the details in my head, etc. Finally, I decide to rent my book, but when I try to, it appears that I am ineligible. Apparently, my tuition payment had not gone all the way through, so I had to come back the next day. The next day came and went, and I was busy at work all day, so I had no time to get my book. The next day comes and even though I had things going on in the morning, I was determined to get my book in the afternoon – especially since I had checked the course syllabus, which had assigned reading to be done by the first lecture on Thursday. So, I get to Ackerman, and it is closed. Now, I have to buy my book after my first class , read my reading in three hours, and rush off to lecture. It all will work out, just in more of a hurry than I would have liked.

I suppose that getting my textbooks hasn’t be “horrible” – especially since I created a lot of the horribleness in my head – but, it just shows that getting your books can be a sometimes anxiety-filled experience. I offer you this piece of advice: just buy your stinking book first thing, you can return until the end of Week 2, anyway.


  1. It’s a bummer to hear how difficult getting textbooks can be!

    If people are looking for cheaper or easier ways to get their textbooks, there are plenty of places online to search for books, including our site, to make sure you get the best price possible. Be wary of people pushing exclusively renting or selling – because the best option isn’t always so cut and dry – depending on your financial situation and needs.

    Thanks, Charley!

    1. Thanks so much! I will definitely be checking out your website next time I need to get textbooks.

      I will say, though, that buying or renting your textbooks from ASUCLA benefits you because the money they earn from book sales goes directly back to the students in the form of scholarships and fun stuff like that.

      Thanks again for the comment!

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