The pitch: Your professor passes out the syllabus at the beginning of the semester with a list of “required” reading materials.
The truth: You might not need all those books, and there are cheaper ways to get them. First, check with the professor; some texts are optional. Hit up the library, which may have hard copies or electronic versions you can borrow for free. Finally, you can probably rent an e-book version for the semester for less than the purchase price of the book. Finally, comb the Internet and the campus bookstore for used copies. Not only will you save, but you’ll get to make a few bucks at the end of the semester by selling them back.
The exception: If you’ve searched for alternative copies or versions and come up empty-handed. (Or if your professor wrote the book.)