How To Save Money On Casebooks
Law school casebooks and supplements sometimes seem to be almost as expensive as law school itself! Luckily, for most students, there are ways to purchase casebooks and supplements at a discounted price. These discounted casebooks and supplements may be a bit unkempt but they can still be valuable resources for you as you work your way through your courses! In this blog post, we will cover six sure-fire ways to save money on casebooks.
How To Save Money On Casebooks
1. Purchase a used textbook or supplement at your local law school bookstore or online.
There are a number of online retailers that sell used textbooks or supplements in a wide variety of conditions. If you navigate to these websites, you can usually find casebooks using either the ISBN number or the casebook name, edition, and author. Discounts start at around 10% to 20% and go as low as 70%-80% and maybe more. It is always a good idea to start looking for textbooks books before the semester starts. This helps improve your chances of getting your hands on an available copy that doesn’t have too many notes or marks. Downloading course syllabi as soon as they are available and looking for a used version of a textbook or supplement needed will give you a timing advantage over other students who wait until the course starts.
2. Purchase older edition casebooks.
This process is almost a guarantee of getting a hefty discount on a casebook or supplement for a casebook. The way to do this is to first find out the name of the casebook, the name of the author, and the edition number you’re responsible for from the class syllabus or the professor directly. If the casebook is an updated version of a prior published version, then you can go and find the older version of the casebook from one of the above-mentioned websites. Normally you should stick to the most recent prior version (e.g. if the course is using the third edition, find a second edition casebook) in order for the two casebooks to be as closely related as possible.
As an example, the most updated version of the Civil Procedure casebook named “Materials for a Basic Course in Civil Procedure, Concise (University Casebook Series)” is the 13th Edition. As of this posting, Amazon is currently selling this edition of the casebook for around $250. There are also no used copies because the casebook this version is a 2021 version of the casebook. The 12th edition of “Materials for a Basic Course in Civil Procedure (University Casebook Series),” on the other hand, is being sold on Amazon.com for around $10. This is a hefty discount from the most updated version. Normally most casebook authors do not make huge changes in the text of a casebook from one edition to the next, but there is some risk if you decide to go this route.
The one caveat is you would need to ask your classmates for translation of what cases should be read if the syllabus only has page numbers with no case names. For this, you can simply download additional cases from Westlaw or LexisNexis to supplement your older edition casebook.
3. Try to buy a used book from another student.
One great method to save money on casebooks is by simply asking other students to sell their old casebooks to you. If you’re looking to purchase books, post on a bulletin board at your law school or ask through a law school facebook group (more on this below!). Also, check to see what fellow students could use resources you already own. You might be able to negotiate a trade.
You will likely be able to get these coursebooks at a discounted rate. Remember to include a callback number or email address on any request so other students can contact you directly. It is also important to list the courses you are taking, the sourcebook, or supplement with author and edition information so a potential seller knows exactly what you are looking for.
4. Track one down via social media.
Another great method is to post an ad asking for casebooks on social media groups tied to the law school. Normally, incoming law school students can participate in a number of social media groups geared toward current law school students. These groups put students in contact with each other and can be helpful when students look to sell their old textbooks. Again, it is also important to list the courses you are taking, the sourcebook, or supplement with author and edition information so a potential seller knows exactly what you are looking for.
5. Rent a casebook.
Amazon and other websites now offer casebook rentals! The price for rentals is routinely 50% or more off from the purchase price of the casebook. Most of these casebook rental sites also allow the student to write or highlight in the book. It is restricted to what and how much you can write or highlight so be sure to check the site’s policy before engaging in a bunch of book briefing. The great thing about renting a casebook is that students usually do not need nor do they want to lug around these casebooks after the course has ended.
6. Read the syllabus for case names and then find and print the cases from Westlaw or LexisNexis.
One way to obtain the cases needed for class reading is to use your access to Westlaw or LexisNexis. Since most, if not all, of the cases you will read for a particular course in law school are cases that can be found using either of these sites, you can simply print out the cases and read them for class. This is potentially free of any payment, with the exception of the cost to print the documents. You can also save the cases as pdfs to save on printing costs by utilizing the electronic version of the cases.
There are two potential issues with this method that may arise from doing this.
- Casebooks sometimes only use a portion of the case to illustrate the issue or rule they are trying to show. Therefore, you may find yourself reading a lot more material or getting sidetracked with other rules for cases that address more than one legal issue. This might not be the best use of your time as you study for your classes.
- You will miss out on any discussions and introductions in the casebook that are not found in the cases themselves. Sometimes, professors incorporate this material into their lectures or cold-call students to answer these questions.