How to Save Money on your Textbooks

15 Aug

The cost of college today is all over the news. From every media outlet you can read, watch, or listen to, a professional talk about how student loan debt is at an all-time high and tuition and fees are rising. While this all may be true, talking about the issues over and over does not help any student attending college.

Per,students can expect to pay almost $1300 per year for textbooks, and that number continues to rise year after year.Outlined below are some simple tips below to help you cut your overall college costs by spending less on your textbooks.

Rent if possible.

For the average college course, renting books is cheaper and less of a hassle for buying your textbooks. Everyone knows that buying a used book is cheaper than buying a new book, but when you go to sell your book back your “buy-back price” is much less than the buy price and in many cases the book store will not even purchase the book back. Plus, you may have to wait in long lines with unpredictable end-of-semester-weather for little recovery of your first investment. When you rent a book you pay a flat fee and return it by the end of your semester. If you use an online source like or you can FedEx your textbook back to them within a reasonable time period after your semester ends. Local bookstores may also have an option to rent.

Look for an older edition of your textbook.

Calculus has not changed in 2000 years, but the story problems have. It’s not a bad idea to check with your professor to see if you can buy an older edition. I took a tax class where the new book was $300 and I refused to pay that price for one textbook. I bought an edition that was three years older for $0.62 on Amazon and received the updated tax codes (which were the only difference between the two textbooks) from my professor.

open notebook and coffee mug; text overlay: how to save money on college textbooks

Look for the e-book.

An e-version could be an option offered by the publisher of your textbook. The online version sells for a fraction of the price of a new or used book. The only downside of purchasing the e-book version is sometimes there is a limited time frame you can use the textbook. If you want to keep the book for referring to after the class is over, this may not be the route for you. In addition, reading off of a computer or tablet screen doesn’t always feel the same as the paper version.


It’s not just a phrase but a way of life for most college students. What will surprise you is how many titles are available on Google books.

Check Craigslist.

Besides garage sales, housing, and boats, you can find used books for sale from students who have taken your class. They want to find a way to get a few dollars back themselves on their old books.

Borrow the book from a friend who has previously taken the class. 

Maybe they weren’t able to sell the book back at the end of the year and you can help take that burden off their hands!

Share a book with a classmate and split the costs.

In this scenario I would still recommend buying a cheaper book and splitting the cost for even higher savings.

Check it out of the library.

Your campus library should have the textbook required by your class. You may not be able to leave the library with the book, but you could at least get some free studying done. Well, until the library closes that is.

Speak with your professor.

A lot of time the department requires a textbook to be purchased but the professor barely uses the material or provides the material needed in class. Try sending your professor or department head an email asking about the course materials. Plus, it never hurts to get to know your instructors better!

Let us know any suggestions you have to keep textbook prices low in the comments! 

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