Dear 100 Hour Board,
I'm shopping for a textbook for one of my classes. I need to know, though, whether or not I have potential to run into trouble with my purchasing options.
Let me explain. The price for a hardcover copy starts around $150, and for an eBook edition, the more "reputable" sources (such as Google Play Books, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, etc.) list the price for the eBook for around $85-105. But, I see from an internet search that there are many places that offer the same eBook for much less, as little as $15-20 (e.g. Panther eBook, eBookmore, eBookland, eBooksharks [ha!], eDuplify, Greatbuys, etc.).
What I want to know is, are these from the last group even legitimate sources? (I'm a little doubtful even just by some of the names.) Could I potentially run into any kind of trouble by purchasing from (or sharing my precious payment info with) one of them? Or, are they legitimate but also have some kind of catch that I don't know about?
-Scrimping and Saving Student
Dear Thrifty and Nifty,
I always try to find the free online PDF of my math textbooks and that tends to work fine, though I don't know specifically about those websites. The only thing you need to make sure is that the edition is up to date and the one you are using in your class. I have made that mistake in the past with Thriftbooks (another place that you can look), and it is the worst when you finish the problems assigned only to realize that you aren't using the right edition.
Besides this, I would imagine that those book sites are trying to do their best but some might pirate the eBook from other sites. I personally think that it is worth the risked $15-20 in order to potentially save $60, but that's up to you. If I did use one of those sites, I would make probably sure to print the book (CougarCreations does this for kind of cheap) just in case and I would pay with PayPal, just to make sure that my information was secure. You could also borrow another student's book and make photocopies of it, which is probably the oldest trick in the library.
Hopefully this answer gets to you at a good moment. Best of luck with the coming semester!
Dear pirates of pigpants,
Another idea: The Harold B. Lee Library often has copies of textbooks that you can check out for a few hours and use in the library. While they certainly don't have every textbook, they will often have more-used books for general chemistry classes, history, etc.
Call, email or chat with the Library Help Desk to see if they have what you need.