For me, this is the first week of sophomore year of college. Most people refer to the first week of each semester as "Syllabus Week". This meaning that you receive your syllabus for each of your classes and go over standard class procedures, specified by each professor. The truth is, this really only applies to the first day of each class, by Wednesday most professors are diving into the content of their course.
Included in the syllabus, is the list of textbooks you will need for that class. When it comes to text books, everyone has their own theory of when to obtain them and in what form they want to purchase them. Textbooks come in many forms: New, used, digital, or loose leaf without a binding. You have the options of renting them from online companies, renting them from the school bookstore, buying them online, buying them at the bookstore, or finding somebody you know who bought the books and previously took the course.
I looked into getting some type of digital reader (nook, ipad, or kindle) to use for my books this semester. However, I couldn't decided which digital reader to purchase, and I found out that not all of my textbooks came in digital form. Needless to say, I didn't purchase one, but I am still considering it.
I generally, look online at my school bookstore, about three weeks before classes start, to find out what books I need for each of my classes as well as how much the school store sells them for. I then go online to slugbooks. From this website you can type in the ISBN number of the book(s) you need and it will compare prices of the books in all forms from a variety of online book sites.
I try to order my books 2-3 weeks before classes start, so that I have them by the time the semester begins. I know people who wait until the first week of classes. I did that second semester last year and it didn't work out so well for me.
In my opinion, there are two awful things that happen with textbooks.
1. The edition you need is only sold through your university bookstore, where the price is outrageous.
2. You buy a book and never use it.
These two things don't happen often, but when they do occur it is quite irritating.
What is your preference when it comes to purchasing textbooks?