Archive for July, 2011
August is looming right around the corner, and you know what that means: back to school. For college students, buying textbooks is a main focus of the weeks leading up to the new school year. Textbooks are ridiculously expensive, but if you plan carefully, there are some ways to reduce the cost. Here are the five best tips I have found for saving money on textbooks:
1. Shop around. Buying all of your textbooks at the same time at your university bookstore may seem like the fastest, easiest approach, but this is definitely going to be the costliest approach. Get an early start on textbook shopping and compare prices at different bookstores and online retailers. Saving hundreds of dollars will make it worth your time.
2. Buy online. Without question, online book retailers are a great place to find textbooks on the cheap. Amazon is the obvious place to start, but make sure you take advantage of a special promotion, such as a free trial of Amazon Prime which will get you free, fast shipping, or a limited time deal like buy three, get the fourth free. Other good sites include www.half.com and www.textbooks.com.
3. Buy used textbooks (but hold out for good quality!). Buying a used copy of a textbook may not save you much at the college bookstore, but when shopping online, used is going to save you a ton. However, it’s not worth it to buy a cheap used textbook that is falling apart or chock-full of someone’s notes and highlighting. Carefully contemplate the resale value of any textbook you purchase, be it used or new.
4. Borrow textbooks. Arrange to swap textbooks with a friend who shares your major. Nothing’s cheaper than free, right?
5. Keep textbooks in good condition for resale. This is probably the best advice for saving money on textbooks. Consider your textbooks as an investment and make sure you treat the books in a way that preserves that investment. Don’t crack the spines on new textbooks (see my previous post “Book Handling Tips” for specific details). Don’t make notes or highlight in the textbooks. Keep them safe from food and drink spills, and don’t carry them uncovered in the rain. Taking care of your textbooks means getting the best possible price when you resell the books to the best online textbook purchaser, BookJingle.
Last week, the bookstore chain Borders announced the impending liquidation of all its retail stores. The chain expects to be completely shut down by September. For urban dwellers, the demise of Borders may not be a big deal, as there are other book retailers from which to choose. But for those who live in smaller towns, Borders may have been the only choice for book shopping in a real, physical store. Saying bye-bye to Borders will not be easy.
In Huntington, West Virginia, Borders was the only bookstore in the local mall and the only big-name bookstore in the entire community. Unless another bookselling mogul such as Barnes & Noble decides to move in, locals will have no choice but to make book purchases online. As the former president of Borders remarked, the book industry is changing rapidly with the development of electronic books and the huge success of online book retailers. With Huntington serving as an example and the U.S. economy in tatters, one has to wonder if this is a hint of what is to come: are we living in the last days of real bookstores?
I have discussed electronic books in this column before, so I want to turn my attention to online book retailers. The advantages of buying books from online retailers are numerous and obvious. Like many other people, I enjoy browsing through titles, reading other people’s reviews, and finding great deals online. Sometimes it’s just easier to purchase books online and have them delivered to my door, often without having to pay shipping. This may be better for the environment, as well; instead of many people jumping in their cars to drive to the bookstore, a single delivery truck brings the packages to people at home, thus consolidating fuel use and air pollution. But let us consider the disadvantages of buying books online. Over 10,000 Borders employees have now lost their jobs. Like many other book retailers, Borders was more than just a place to buy a book. It was designed to be a social gathering spot, with live music, literary readings, children’s events, and of course, great coffee. When I sit at home in my pajamas and purchase books on my computer, I am gaining some convenience, time saved, and sparing myself from having to be around other people. I am losing the experience of being in a comfortable, well-designed book store, and I am losing the chance to be around other people.
I would venture a guess that if you compare book sales from physical bookstores to online retailers, you might find that some books that would have been picked up at the bookstore are left out of the virtual shopping cart. This is based on my experiences in bookstores and what I’ve seen other people do. Browsing in a bookstore like Borders is a relaxing, unhurried experience; row after row of neatly categorized books call out for the shopper to linger, to skim through the books and read the back covers, to compare similar books on the same topic. The live music and the inviting smell of coffee certainly enhance this casual, slow-paced shopping experience. Many books are probably purchased on impulse because of this effect, whereas shopping for books on Amazon, you aren’t going to notice much except for the specific book for which you are searching. When fewer books are purchased, it affects book publishers, editors, literary agents, and writers. And when fewer books are purchased, fewer books are read, and people spend too much time messing around on the computer or watching TV. And that, in my opinion, is just sad.
Got used books to sell? BookJingle is the place to get cash for used books! BookJingle purchases all types of used books and specializes in non-fiction books and textbooks. BookJingle may purchase books from these categories:
Visit www.bookjingle.com to find out if BookJingle is purchasing your books!
Going green means finding a use for things that otherwise would be put in the trash. Turning a creative eye on going green can be really fun! Here are some ideas for creative crafts that are perfect for kids and adults.
Mini Doll Bed
This craft recycles an empty tissue box and makes an adorable bed for a child’s small dolls and figurines. It is the right size for a Beanie Baby. Simply cut the box into the desired shape and cover it with contact paper. Use a washcloth for a blanket.
Use a sturdy cereal box to make a custom-designed magazine holder. Cut the top off of the box. Halfway across the top, cut at a 45 degree angle down to the front of the box. Cut straight across and then cut back up the other side at the same angle. Spray paint the box or cover with contact paper or wrapping paper. (This is a great craft for saving money. I recently purchased some magazine holders and they were really expensive!)
Make pretty flower pots out of almost any recyclable: milk jugs with the tops cut off, clean tin cans, plastic two liter bottles with the tops cut off. Use markers, stickers, paper or paint to decorate.
Use an empty food canister with a plastic lid to make a cute coin bank. Clean the container and apply a paint primer. Paint the box a solid color; when it’s dry, decorate it with stickers or pictures cut from a magazine. Cut a small slot in the lid to drop the coins in. This idea can be adapted to make a container for almost anything – hair accessories, jewelry, small toys, etc.
In My Opinion…
A Book Review of Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman
Sharon Kay Penman has made her name writing historical fiction. Here Be Dragons, a critically acclaimed historical novel about thirteenth-century Wales, is a compelling, artful blend of fact and fiction. The story of political conflict and war between England’s King John and Llewelyn, Prince of North Wales (known in the annals of history as “Llewelyn Fawr,” or Llewelyn the Great) is underwritten by the romantic, personal story of Joanna, King John’s illegitimate daughter and wife to Prince Llewelyn. Through Joanna, Penman manages to forge a bond over the seven centuries that separate a modern reader from the characters and create empathy and admiration for these ancient British nobles through their foibles and triumphs.
Joanna, married at fourteen to the much-older Llewelyn, is a likeable character and cuts an unusually powerful figure for a Medieval woman. A surprisingly strong marital bond forms between the couple in spite of the numerous hardships they suffer. Weathering the continual boundary wars between England and Wales, clashes of pride and ego between Llewelyn and King John, and intense rivalry between Llewelyn’s first son and the couple’s younger son are not easy for these two. Joanna often has to negotiate being caught in the middle between two distinct and incompatible forces. The reader has no trouble dedicating loyalty to this royal couple; you really want to see happiness and peace for Joanna and Llewelyn.
All of the grand romance, battles, suffering, secrets and betrayal of a sweeping historical tale are present, but probably the most interesting part of this story is the amazing historical accuracy. All of Penman’s main characters really existed, along with many of the secondary characters. Penman sticks to the historical accounts, adding only details and blending the events to make a smoother narrative. I am simply fascinated that the dry historical documents from seven centuries ago could give way to such a rich, revealing story. Here Be Dragons is definitely recommended reading, but be sure to pay attention as you go. There are a lot of characters, many with similar-sounding names, and it would be easy to get lost in the forest of earls, princes, bishops and nobles.
For people wanting to sell used books for cash, the number one most frequently asked question has to be, “How does this work?” Selling used books online to BookJingle is as easy as it gets. Here is how it works when you sell to BookJingle:
1) Enter the ISBN(s) of the books you want to sell. Press the enter button after each number, so that each book is on a single line.
2) Click the “Show my offer(s)” button to see BookJingle’s offer for each book.
3) You can then choose to accept or reject the offer for each book. If you decide to accept the offer, simply click on the “accept offer” check box and the books will be added to your cart.
4) Select a delivery method. Shipping is always FREE if you use BookJingle’s mailing label.
5) Complete the check out process and confirm the books you are selling.
6) Get paid FAST! BookJingle offers payment via PayPal or check. PayPal payments will be sent and checks mailed within 48 hours after your shipment is received.
That’s it! Selling used books for cash has never been more user-friendly. Check out BookJingle today!
By now, pretty much all of us are on board for finding ways to reduce pollution, stop inflating landfills, and save natural resources like water and trees. Here are some of the most common-sense ways you can go green without making major changes in your wallet or your lifestyle.
1. Quit idling! Americans idle away 2.9 billion gallons of gasoline a year sitting in stationary cars. Idling for 10 seconds uses more gas than you need to start your car. If you aren’t on the road and your car is sitting still, turn it off!
2. Evaluate your thermostat setting! Small adjustments in the setting of your home’s thermostat can make huge savings in energy. For every degree you lower your thermostat in winter, you save between 1-3% of your total heating bill, and the reverse is true in summer for your air conditioning.
3. Cool down the laundry! Most loads of laundry don’t require hot water. Using cold water to wash and rinse your clothes will save on your energy bill.
4. End junk mail! More than 100 million trees and 28 billion gallons of water are used in producing the junk mail Americans receive annually. Register yourself on the Mail Preference Service of the Direct Marketing Association (http://www.dmachoice.org) to end 75% of unsolicited mail.
5. Switch your lightbulbs! Changing to a CFL (compact fluorescent) bulb instead of incandescent will use 75% less electricity, and the bulb will last ten times longer. Replacing one 75 watt bulb with a 25 watt CFL will save approximately $83 over the life of the bulb.
6. Recycle old electronics! Americans throw away incredible quantities of old electronic items, an estimated 5.5 billion pounds in 2005. This puts dangerous chemicals and heavy metals into the ground where they can affect drinking water and vegetation. Go to www.digitaltips.org/green/default.asp to find a recycling center for electronics near you.
Books can be found in nearly every home. Whether your books are an investment, a hobby, a treasure, an inheritance, or something you must have around because of educational pursuits, you want to make sure you keep them in the best possible condition. The following book care suggestions apply to all books, but especially expensive hardcover volumes. Taking good care of your books means prolonging the life of your books for more enjoyment for you and for others, and it preserves the resale value of the books!
- Don’t crack the binding. Opening a new book in the middle can crack the binding. To preserve the condition of the binding in a new book, spend a few minutes going through the book, alternating from front to back, gently turning a few pages at a time until you end in the middle of the book. This technique should be used for books with pages sewn in the binding and those that are glued in as well.
- Avoid leaving Post-it notes on the pages of your book. If you must use a Post-it, don’t leave it on the page for long. Never use a Post-it on an illustrated book page; the adhesive can damage the dye in the ink of the illustration and leave a discolored patch on the page. This is true for colored and black-and-white illustrations, and over time, the same thing can happen to text.
- Never put your thumbs on the edge of the pages. You will leave black marks on the edges and damage the pages. A book should be held cradled in your hand (left hand for righties, right hand for lefties). Do not use your thumbs to hold the book open. The less you place your fingers on the pages, the less oils from your skin will cause smudges and deterioration of the paper.
- Never shelve a book on its side. If the book is too tall to stand up on the shelf, lay it down flat. If there is no room to lay the book flat and you must shelve it on its side, place it with the spine down. If you place it spine up, the weight of the pages will eventually loosen the pages in the binding.
- Never pull on the top of a cloth spine. When removing a book from the shelf, grasp it from both sides, or place one finger on top of the pages and nudge it out until you can grasp it from the sides. Avoid shelving books too tightly together so that you can easily slide out the book you want.
Whether your summer plans include lounging on the beach or swatting mosquitos in your own backyard, chances are that you’ll find some extra downtime for reading. Finding that perfect summer book can make all the difference in making your summer perfect. Here are ten of my favorite books for summer reading, books that will be a pleasure to read and impossible to forget.
1. Terror by Dan Simmons. This tale of an ill-fated Arctic expedition makes a powerful read anytime, but I suggest reading it in the heat of summer. Otherwise, the descriptions of ice and sub-zero temperatures just might give you frostbite.
2. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. This classic novel set in Nigeria presents an unforgettable, tragically-flawed protagonist, Okonkwo. His story will make you think about what it means to be a hero.
3. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. Romance, family feuds and fantastic cooking make this the perfect novel for reading on the beach.
4. The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir. While not a novel, this historical account of Britain’s most notorious monarch contains enough intrigue and scandal to outpace any steamy paperback. Plus, you will learn something about British history.
5. The Stand by Stephen King. This bone-chilling, heart-warming tale of the ultimate battle between good and evil is my favorite stand-alone King novel. It’s one of those books that begins to feel more real than the world around you.
9. Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman. A historical novel set in thirteenth century Wales, this book has feuding royals, political marriages, betrayal, murder, and the constant struggle for power. In other words, this book’s got everything.