College Student Holding Textbooks in the Quad

How to Save Money on College Textbooks

So you thought after paying tuition and all of your fees for the semester that you were done spending money. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. You may have forgotten about the pretty huge expense that is your textbooks.

College textbook prices have skyrocketed in the past few years, and it can seem pretty difficult to find a way to afford them. The average student spends about $1,200 a year on their books. That’s crazy, especially since you only use the books for a few months. They update the editions regularly, so buying new can seem like your only option.

While this can cause a lot of stress on an already stressed out college student, you can relax a little! Here are some ways you can save money on your college textbooks:

Consider Renting or Buying Used Books

The most common misconception among students is that they think they need to go straight to their college bookstore at the beginning of the semester and buy all of their books. While seemingly convenient and highly recommended by your professors, this is the MOST EXPENSIVE way to buy textbooks.

Since your classes change each semester, it’s very unlikely that you will use your book again once the semester is over, so renting or buying used can end up saving you a lot of money!

My two favorite websites to use while I was in college were Chegg and Amazon. They have the biggest selection with the best prices, and they can be a great help in saving you a lot of money!

Visit your local thrift store to see if they have any textbooks!
Students often donate their books from each semester, and you can usually get them for $5 or less!

Compare the prices online of the used versions and the rental price. While it might be a savings of only $6 to rent instead of buying, that extra savings will add up over time!

Get eBooks or Loose-Leaf Versions

These two versions of textbooks have been growing in popularity for the past several years. If you have your own laptop or tablet, I would suggest definitely looking into an eBook.

They are up to 40% cheaper than their print counterpart and have features that still allow you to navigate easily and highlight or take notes.

Loose-leaf versions of your books are another way to save some money! I LOVED getting loose-leaf versions of my books. They are way cheaper, plus you can take out one specific chapter and bring it to class without your whole book.

This is definitely easier on your back while walking across campus, and you can save some extra cash to boot.

Some articles and people will recommend sharing eBook versions. However, this is actually illegal according to current copyright law. I wouldn’t recommend going down that path.

Network for Deals

One way that I used to save money on textbooks in college was to network! Students that have taken the class before you are often looking to unload their books. As luck would have it, you’re looking for those books!

Use your networking skills to find these students, and you can save a ton on some of the books you need. It’s a win-win for both of you since they’d likely be stashing the book away somewhere, donating it or selling it for pennies on the dollar.

I used all kinds of social networking sites to help sell and buy the books that I needed. Facebook in particular was extremely helpful for me. There are usually Facebook groups for most major classes you’ll take, and it’s a great way to meet people and help each other out.

Also, just talk to people! Not only will you probably make a friend, but you’d be surprised whose sister/cousin/friend is just leaving the class you are about to take.

Don’t Fear Older Editions

Textbook publishers love putting out new editions for books, and your professors love suggesting those new editions. The truth is, they usually don’t change very much from year to year, and more often than not an older edition will work just fine for your class.

A good rule of thumb is to ask around or email your professor to see if an older edition is okay to use. The chapters and page numbers may be changed or a little off, but if you’re down to do a little digging, it can really pay off to get a previous edition.

Resell Books at Semester-End

If you do resort to buying a textbook, used or new, always try and resell! There are a ton of websites you can use to resell your books, and your local college bookstore will sometimes buy back your book to sell as “used” depending on the condition it’s in.

Amazon, eBay and other buying/selling mobile apps are great places to sell as well, so take good care of your book when you get it! The money you make for reselling your book one semester can be the same money you use to buy your books for the next year, so your textbook money works for you!

Do you have any tips we didn’t mention here? Let us know in the comments below!

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