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When you can, always buy used textbooks rather than the new ones. New books are exorbitantly expensive and they're really no better than a used book (especially when you consider that your "new" book will become "used" the second you crack it open). Shop online or in local book stores for used books. Check out AbeBooks, Amazon, eBay, and Half.com for a large selection. If you can only find last year's edition, ask the professor if that will work, too (it often will).
If you're not 100% certain about a class, wait until after the first day of class before you buy your books. This will give you a chance to assess the class and determine if the textbook will even be necessary.
Still looking for more ways to save on your books? Read our complete guide to saving money on college books, including how to get them for free, renting them, buying them at a discount and other simple tips to cut down costs.