Science, Tech, Math › Science Before You Buy a Chemistry Textbook Questions To Ask Before Spending Money on a Chemistry Book Share Flipboard Email Print Before you spend big bucks on a chemistry text, ask yourself some key questions to determine if you really need it. Hill Street Studios / Getty Images Science Chemistry Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Periodic Table Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated March 08, 2017 You've gotten the list of textbooks for your course. Before you sell your soul to the bookstore, find out which texts you really need and which ones to skip. Ask yourself these important questions: Will you keep the book? Thumb through the book and ask yourself whether or not you think the book will serve as a handy reference after the course is concluded. If yes, buy it, preferably new. If not, keep reading... Does the course actually use the text? Words to the wise: A book might be listed as 'required', but that doesn't necessarily mean you have to buy it! Some required texts really don't get used (ask upperclassmen) or can be borrowed. If you don't plan on keeping the book after the class, consider buying a 'used' copy. When in doubt, wait until the first day of class to make a decision. Is this a lab book? Laboratory workbooks need to be purchased and they need to be new. Don't try to sneak in a used laboratory book. Your instructor will not be amused. Is the text available used? Really popular texts are usually available in 'used' form. However, the text is probably popular because it is useful! If you need a book and will use it after the course ends, buy it new. If you are strapped for cash or the usefulness of the book is questionable, buy it used. Will the book help you? Sometimes a book is recommended, but not required. This is true for many study guides. Ask yourself whether or not you will benefit from using the book. Can the book be borrowed? Is it useful enough to buy, new or used? When in doubt, talk with your instructor. Can I afford it? Although this is a good question to raise regarding buying books, it is NOT a question to ask when deciding whether or not to obtain a book. The difference? Buying a book involves money. Obtaining a book might involve money, but it also could include borrowing from a student or professor. I don't recommend sharing important books. If you need a book, then get it!