12 Ways To Save Money On College Textbooks

by on May 14, 2012

If you think tuition is tough and has enough zeros at the end of it, you have obviously not purchased the textbooks required for class the first semester, or you have and you need a way around paying the outrageous amount.

Although the Higher Education Opportunity Act which became effective July 1, 2010 has eliminated packaged textbooks, workbooks and CDs so they can be bought separately, the price for the books themselves still have not lowered. The Higher Education Opportunity Act also requires intuitions to provide students with textbook information at the time of registration. This means that you can see all the book materials you will need before classes begin and it also means that you get to see that the average price you will be paying for textbooks is $600 – $900 each year.

You don’t deserve to spend an outrageous amount of money for an education, and while little can be done about the tuition rates, there are 12 magnificent ways to save money on college textbooks. You may even see the average book cost drop by 60-90 percent. If you work the following ways to save money on college textbooks well enough, you may even make money!

12 Ways to Save on College Books

1. Don’t buy the books listed

Despite the common belief, it is very rare that you will use the books listed for a particular class. If you can, contact your instructor of the class and confirm if you will need the required books or not. Try to connect with other students who have taken the class and ask them if they needed the textbook. If none of that works, simply wait until class begins to see if you need it, many instructors will make it clear if it is needed or not.

2. Check out at the library

If you act quickly enough, you can put the books on hold if they are available at the campus library. Also, while it may be difficult to find a chemistry book at the local library, you can check there for other books such as literary reading materials or history books.

3. Ask friends or previous students who took the class if they will sell their book for cheap

Many students keep their textbooks because they bought them at the campus bookstore and found out they can’t even get 50% of what they spent on it back by reselling it to the bookstore. While they may not have been smart enough to shop elsewhere, you can be smart enough and make a bid for how much you will buy their textbook from them. The more they spent on the textbook, the more desperate they will be. This means that you can get it at a very cheap price.

4. Ask the teacher if you need the newest edition or if the old edition will work

The books used in the basic courses are constantly being updated. Although, by “updated” they don’t mean that there have been serious changes to where the old version is no longer applicable. The teacher will often know if you can purchase a previous edition. If you can’t get in contact before you need the book, just go with a recently old edition.

5. Leave it up to reviews and synopses to get you by

There are dozens of reports, reviews and essays posted online for the books that are required for classes. The books that are used most in different classes, Shakespeare for example, has thousands of overviews that you can use instead of actually buying the textbook. You can also use sites such as wwwSparknotes.com or do a quick Google search of the course textbook before to see what has been uploaded.

6. Buy international editions

Buying international editions of textbooks is very similar to buying old editions. You can often get these books at 10% of the U.S cost and there are usually only slight differences in the actual content.

7. Using Financial Aid

If you do not plan on attending for a full 4 years, have scholarships and grants or are just attending a low-cost College or University, you can use your financial aid to help purchase books. The money is there for you to use toward your education and if you do not need it for your tuition, use it for other large educational expenses like textbooks.

8. Discounted/Rented Textbooks

You can visit websites such as chegg, amazon, craigstlist, and half to find the absolute best prices on textbooks. While many of the sites will allow you to purchase books and sell them back, other sites like Chegg and CollegeBookRenter let you rent the books for a period of time (typically a semester). The price to rent a book is usually 20-40 percent of the average price of the textbook.

9. Buying them early at the bookstore

If you can, buy the books for the following semester as soon as possible. You have two possibilities for a discount on the books. The first is that the prices may be lower since it is not the normal book purchasing time. The second advantage is that you will have first dibs on buying the used books the bookstore will have.

10. Use your E-Reader or Laptop

While the battle of digital books and hardcopies wages on, many school systems are allowing courses to distribute electronic versions of the textbooks. This means that the price for the electric version will be much cheaper and sometimes may even be free.

11. Photocopy

Similar to an electronic version of the text, many professors will only use a few pages out of the textbooks they said were required for the class. In this case, you can make photo copies of the necessary pages from another person’s copy of the textbook.

11. Take advantage of the buddy system

Whether it is splitting the cost of a textbook to share or just using the textbook with the person who bought it, you can always rely on someone else willing to share. If you can, connect with a classmate before the beginning of the class or take the same class as a friend to save money on buying your own textbook.

12. Making money by reselling your books

If you follow through with the tips listed above, you can even make money off of your textbooks. What it comes down to is getting the best deal so that when you make a deal with a friend, post an advertisement on craigslist or sellback to Amazon, you will make money.

It is much more than possible to save money, not spend any money or even make money when getting college textbooks. Just because the college textbook publishers don’t understand the economic struggle that the college life entails and the actual importance of receiving a low-cost education, does not mean that you can’t get around it. You have the ability to cut your costs in half by renting textbooks or buying them for cheap. You can save yourself completely by sharing books or not even getting them if the professor does not plan on using them. You will even make money if you work smart enough and sell books online or to other students who will take even a small discount.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

RentScouter May 14, 2012 at 10:21 am

Love this article, thanks for posting! I think the buddy system is great, personally. I really like that idea-same with not buying the newest editions. Very seldom does that need to be done! I have a website that always provides price comparison on buying, selling, and renting textbooks. There’s also “One Stop Shopping” on the site, where you enter in all of the ISBNs at once to save time. Please check us out! http://www.rentscouter.com


kathy parr May 15, 2012 at 10:12 pm

I remember my college days with this posts, i finished my degree without even buying a single book, since our family is not that wealthy and buying books wouldn’t be a wise thing for me to do, then i tend to do photocopying on those books that my professors are using, it is a thrifty and useful method of saving money.


Jennifer Erwin May 17, 2012 at 8:12 pm

I always remind my kids to save money and don’t buy things that are not that necessary. In books, as long as they can find a source on the internet. They will not ask me to buy it. My kids already learned how to become resourceful. Anyway almost everything can be found on the internet.


Cathy Daniels May 18, 2012 at 1:35 am

During my college days before, I only buy a book if it’s required, but if not, I did the same thing as Kathy Par, Photocopying is the best option. Also, I borrowed books from the other class since our professor is the same and so as the book, but not the same time slot.
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Angel May 21, 2012 at 6:23 am

Even if modern era comes in our way, Books still considered students best friend as they track the journey of learning. Books retains reputable resource reputation despite of modernization where information needed can be seen within just few hand types and minutes.
Back to the topic, this list or ways on how to save money from books is useful though they majority of them are being practiced. I must admit that even in my college years I don’t buy books at all (nevertheless it is required) I prefer to have a copy through photocopy and compiling it as it is more cheaper than buying a new one.


Pubudu May 30, 2012 at 3:38 am

When I was in college, I rarely bought them. I used to check Library then photocopied or scanned the notes i needed. I was able to save a lot in books @ that time
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Eric William June 22, 2012 at 4:17 am

These are great ways to save money on textbooks. Books are really essential to one’s education, so if we can have them cheap, the better!


Steve March 18, 2013 at 4:26 am

Great tips mate.. sad to say I can’t use any of these tips since my college days are over.. but I’ll surely convey these awesome ways to save money on textbooks to my younger siblings. I really liked your post. And here comes your new visitor.. 🙂


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