First of all, I want to clarify that buying books is by no means necessary and that plenty of students are able to succeed in med school by simply downloading books and studying them on their computers. Now, if you are just like me and you need a paper version of a book, keep on reading.
I love books and I enjoy studying from various sources, so I may get even two or more different books for a single class. To me, books are like an invitation to an amazing world of words and they intrigue me with their images and diagrams. I am such a book-worm that after (almost) every single exam I pass, a small part of me feels sad because I won’t get to read more about the topics I was just tested on, because I have to move on to the next subject.
Unfortunately, books can be incredibly expensive so most of the time, I buy used books or base my choice of book on whichever is the cheapest. Amazon and fellow medical students are, in my opinion, the best way to get good deals on used books, so that you too can enjoy the feeling of good old paper without having to sell your organs for it. All the used books I bought on Amazon were in very good condition, some were basically new, and I spent only a fraction of the original price. If you don’t mind taking a leap of faith and hope that your books will be well-preserved I think Amazon is the way to go.
On the other hand, when you buy books from other students of the course, you are able to see the book beforehand, to judge its condition before buying it, and if you decide to buy, you don’t have to wait for shipment times. The only downside is that books might be more expensive when you are buying them from students rather than Amazon sellers.
Another possibility is to just print parts and chapeters of the books if not print the whole book. Most books are available online and you are able to go to any copy store to print up to 15% of the book by law. For many classes we only need certain chapters of the book and, with a few trips to the copy store, you might be able to obtain a cheap version of a book. If you decide that printing is your game, as many of us do, I suggest you ask the person at the shop to print 4 pages of the book on each sheet of paper and obviously to do it in black and white; if you were to print colors, you’d end up paying almost as much as the original book. Printing is a common practice among Italian students and it is the most wallet-friendly option you have as a book lover.
Ultimately, the smartest way to save money when it comes to buying books is to know what kind of student you are. Some students prefer having big volumes in which they can find every single concept the human mind has ever formulated, while other students only want to have just the right amount of words to be able to understand clearly the topic. Most professors own all the books they recommend and will let you see them, if you ask them. A simple google search might also be enough to get an idea on how the books are and which one suits you best. Once you realize what kind of student you are, you can stop wasting money on books you won’t be using and start buying the right kind.