I Just Saved Myself $707.55!!

So today I received my list of textbooks for first semester, with an whopping estimated expense of $747.45! From experience, I know that I will not be using all the textbooks that I usually buy from the campus bookstore, and so I searched the forums of valuemd to determine which books I thought were absolutely necessary. Turns out just about every upperclassman would agree the most used book is Netter’s Atlas, followed by BRS Anatomy. I read New Clinical Genetics is useful too but most people consider it “optional.” If I bought books from the AUC online bookstore, they would charge regrettable shipping fees, and so I found the best prices on eBay and Amazon marketplace for books.

It’s amazing how many books out there are open source or digitalized, yet are still sold expensively as book form. All the books that could be downloaded for free, I downloaded, and my total turned out to be $39.90, which includes shipping. Although I may not mark or write notes on them, electronic books give me other advantages, such as the ability to search for keywords quickly and its weightlessness. I got more than enough of what I am able to use and saved myself $707.55 at the same time!

New Clinical Genetics 49.45 0
Mark’s Medical Biochemistry 67.45 0
VH Dissector Pro 152.1 0
Netter’s Atlas of Human Anatomy 71.95 39.90
Netter’s Clinical Anatomy 40.5 0
Clinically Oriented Anatomy 76.45 0
Histology with Cell and Molec 65.65 0
Basic Histology: Text and Atlas 58.45 0
Langman’s Medical Embryology 56.65 0
Clinical Anatomy: Applied 62.05 0
Histology Virtual Microscope 46.75
747.45 39.90 707.55

**UPDATE 3/2014**
As of September 2013, AUC now provides students with electronic textbooks via a platform called Vital Source. While one no longer needs to buy any of the books on the AUC textbook list, it’s still a good idea to consider getting BRS Anatomy, as it is not provided. It’s also a good idea to buy a Netter’s since one cannot bring computers or tablets  into the anatomy lab. Please see my post on textbooks for more information.

27 comments to I Just Saved Myself $707.55!!

  • New To AUC

    As a newly accepted student to AUC, I was just wondering where you found all of these digitized and open source books. I have been looking online for a bit but have been thus far unlucky for my search. If you could point me in the right direction, it’d be great. Thanks

    • Benji

      Hey New to AUC, I wouldn’t worry about downloading the ebooks before you get down to the island. Once you get here, there are plenty of students here who are more than happy to share with you. Just bring a USB flash drive.

  • Jason La Vigne

    Hey Benji,

    Great site, thanks!!! What are your thoughts on international versions of the texts? I found Netter’s international version new for $39.00.

    • Benji

      Hi Jason, I’m not sure what makes the “international version” international, but since the drawings are all the same, it should work as well. I’ve had some classmates who used the international version and they haven’t had any problems w/ it.

  • Jason La Vigne

    Thanks Benji!!!

  • Thomas


    BRS Anatomy has recently updated their textbook, as has Netters. I assume that I should be buying the newest version of the book to keep up with the curriculum at AUC? I’m starting basic sciences this month and am struggling with determining what items I should purchase before going to the island, especially textbook wise.

    • Benji

      Hi Thomas,
      It’s always nice to have the most recently updated textbooks, but since anatomy hasn’t really changed since the beginning of mankind, buying the newest version of Netters isn’t as important for anatomy. For BRS, however, since the question style and content does change for the Step I exam over time, the version of BRS you buy may matter more than Netters.

  • Rachel

    Hi Benji,

    This is so helpful! Thank you! What sites were you able to download these texts for free from? And did you download them to your computer or iPad? Did it take up a lot of space and make your computer run slower?


    • Benji

      Hi Rachel,

      You can find books using torrents and download them onto your computer, or transfer them to your iPad. Every book is different size… some are only a few megabytes, others are 200+ megabytes.

      However, I wouldn’t worry about downloading the ebooks before you get down to the island. Once you get here, there are plenty of students here who are more than happy to share with you. Just bring a USB flash drive.

      Good luck!


  • Kelly

    Hey Benji,

    You mention a couple of times to bring Netters down b/c there may not be enough used ones to go around… It seems that I will be getting to the island a few weeks before my classmates… do you think I’m safe to get a used one from an upperclassman? How about BRS?


    (you’re awesome, and so is this page!!)

    • Benji

      Hey Kelly, I think you have a good chance that you’ll find a used Netters (and probably BRS too) from an upper semester student. If you arrive early enough, you may be able to catch the fifth semester sale at the end of the semester, and i’m sure you’ll likely find one there. Towards the very end of the semester, after the sale, there may even be unsold books that are dumped on the tables in the rotunda that you may look through and pick up. Otherwise if you are coming down with the rest of your class, the only thing I’d worry is with 220 or so people in your class, there probably won’t be enough used copies left over from the smaller previous classes for everyone to buy. Netter’s I’d recommend having a hard copy of so you can take into the lab. For BRS, if you can’t find a copy, there’s always free ebooks you can get from others when you arrive.
      Best of luck!

  • Anum

    Hi Benji.

    I’m an incoming Fall 2012 student and I love this blog! Thanks for sharing! I look forward to attending AUC and meeting you too (:

  • Jess


    I was wondering if we need to buy the anatomy dissection kit because it’s sort of pricey.


    • Benji

      I’d get to the island, and then decide. You can buy dissection kits on campus at Notes Services for $35. Some people may decide to buy a kit for themselves, while others may decide to share with people in their lab group.

  • Natalie

    Hi Benji!

    For Netters I noticed that you needed a pin to access studentconsult.com. Is that necessary or would the book itself suffice for anatomy?


  • Kiran

    Hi Benji,
    Is it okay if I use the Grays Anatomy book instead of the BRS Gross Anatomy book?

    • Benji

      Hi Kiran! Yes, Gray’s is authoritative as a reference book, but it’s big, heavy, expensive, and almost impossible to read through due to its shear size. For more practical day-to-day review purposes, I’d recommend a more concise, easy-to-read guide to anatomy, and BRS would be best for this.

  • Andy

    Hi Benji,

    I love your website. Seriously the most informative place for all the information I am looking for. I just recently got accepted into AUC and I wanted to ask how the Mail system works on the island. I read that there are a few places where mail can go to and the student has the option to set up a mailbox. How did this work out for you? If I order texts from amazon, can I get them shipped to the island? Or how about mailing just stuff in between home and the island?

    Thanks for all your help,

    • Benji

      Hi Andy, congratulations on your acceptance to AUC and thanks for visiting my site. Here’s some info about mail services on campus and in St. Maarten:

      Note Service on campus can receive any letters or packages for you, free of charge. However, they only receive packages that are sent by USPS Priority, EMS, FedEx, UPS, and DHL, so make sure whoever is sending you the package sends it via these carriers! Otherwise, all other packages will be sent to the main post office in Philipsburg, which is very far away. The letters and packages should be addressed to:

      Your Name
      American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine
      #1 University Dr. at Jordan Road
      Cupecoy, St. Maarten

      Once Note Service receives a package, they will email you to come pick it up. They also post a list outside their window that shows the students who have packages waiting to be picked up. Here’s more info about Note Service: http://www.caribbeanmedstudent.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/IMG_8919.jpg

      AUC Note Service is limited as they only receive and not send, and if you are shipping from the United States, the packages must be sent to a foreign address. However, if you plan on sending or receiving packages frequently, a great service that many students use is the MailBox.

      Unlike Note Service, you can both receive and send mail via the MailBox. The best part is they give you a Miami P.O. Box address that the sender can send the mail to, so it would be just like sending something domestically in the US, without the international shipping fees. Although their main office is in Simpson Bay, the MailBox comes to campus twice a week (Mon and Thurs from 11:30am-12:30pm in the Rotunda) to deliver the packages as well as receive stuff you want to send off. You could either pay a monthly fee to use their service (I forget how much it is), or you could get a discounted student price of $105 that would cover you for an entire year. You can sign up for The Mailbox when they come to campus during the Business Fair during Orientation.

      Best of luck Andy!

  • Garnette

    Hi Benji!

    Thank you so much for such a thorough entry regarding books for class! This is probably the trickiest area I’ve felt even for undergrad because it was always a battle between “most imperative” vs “ehhh you can live without” when it came down to textbooks! So I’m glad you’ve made it clear that really Netter’s is the absolute more important (which I know from my friends who are currently in med school), and also about the greatness of ebooks. I was wondering if you brought a tablet as well as a laptop with you and if so which tablet? I was thinking Kindle Fire or iPad though the Kindle is cheaper. Also, I’m applying now for the 2014 term so do you suggest one purchases books prior to arrival on the island to pack with them? Thank you so much Benji! Oh and congratulations on your engagement (I just read the entry this evening you and your fiancee are adorable)!


    • Benji

      Hi again Garnette!
      I brought my laptop with my to the island, and it wasn’t until my last semester that I purchased an iPad. Now I use my iPad more than my laptop! If you have both, I would certainly bring both, since you generally can’t put stuff onto a tablet without connecting it to the computer first. Lots of people at AUC use iPads. In the beginning of the semester, there may also be a talk held about how to maximize the use of your iPad in med school. I’m not familiar with Kindle Fire, but whatever tablet you buy, make sure it has an app-store that has note-taking programs like iAnnotate, which is a popular one among AUC students with iPads. In iAnnotate, you can download your lecture power points and annotate them. As for books, I would purchase the ones you are absolutely sure you want (like Netters) and bring them to the island, and then buy the rest second-hand at the first-semester yard sale in the beginning of the semester.
      Thanks for the well wishes Garnette! Irene and I got married in March 2012 in Miami! 🙂 I posted some photos here: http://www.caribbeanmedstudent.com/2012/03/wedding/

  • Sean

    Hello Benji,

    Extremely informative site. I will be attending AUC Jan 2014. I see you did not start using an iPad until later in your medical career but there is a Netters app (which is expensive) for the iPad which seems to be useful for 1st semester. I have heard great things about the app specifically for quizzing oneself. Do you have an opinion about this app for anatomy labs?

    • Benji

      Hi Sean,
      Congratulations on your acceptance to AUC! I’m not familiar with the Netter’s app, but from my experience when I was on the island, iPads and electronics were not allowed in the anatomy labs, and so I would still get the actual book to use during lab-time. Plus, the anatomy lab can be a messy place, with dissected cadavers around, and I wouldn’t want to get any of my electronics dirty. As for a study tool that you do at home, different people study differently, and if the app quizzing functions works for you, I’d say go for it. Best of luck!

  • Angie

    Hi Benji,

    Like Sean, I’ll also be attending AUC Jan 2014. Thank you for your tips about textbooks! Recently, AUC send me an email to tell us not to buy textbooks for this semester only. As an experiment of sorts, AUC is buying all of our textbooks through VitalSource and having us study through these ebooks. My problem is that I love my physical textbooks, so do you think that the professors would use VitalSource in their classroom or classwork?


    • Benji

      Hi Angie,

      That is interesting. When I was on the island, we didn’t have ebooks in class, so my guess would be just as good as yours. If you feel more comfortable with physical books, then I think you should still get some. Afterall, your goal is to learn. You can always get them used and cheap from other students at the First Semester Yard Sale on campus during the first week of school.


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