14 ways to save hundreds on textbooks

stack of booksYour college experience won't be complete until you almost faint at the price tag of your books. The good news is that you don't have to pay the sticker price if you follow some of these tips:

Rent your books. If you want to skip the hassle of buying and selling back books, rent them! These sites may not have every book on your list, but they’re worth checking out. Many offer free shipping and some will even plant a tree if you rent from them.


>>Top 5 book rental sites

E-textbooks. If you’re comfortable reading on the computer screen or you have a reader like the Kindle, e-textbooks could save you some money. However if you like to keep yourbooks after the semester ends, you might want to stick with the old fashioned paper books.


>>E-textbooks: Good for the planet and your wallet


>>Top 5 sites for digital textbooks

Free e-books. California has an open educational resource directory with tons of free e-books. If you’re lucky, you might find your books here for free. Your college library might also have digital versions of your textbooks available.


Order your books online. Even if you like to rent books or get e-textbooks, you’re bound to find at least one you’ll have to buy. Once you’re sure you are going to take a class, buy them online instead of the bookstore. Most schools post the required books online so you won’t even have to get out of your pajamas to compare prices. Search for books online using the ISBN number to make sure you get the correct edition of your book.


>>Get more cash: Sell your used textbooks online

Check for older editions.
Textbook companies make a lot of money putting out a new edition every year and most of the time they only make a few minor edits. Your professor might know whether or not you’ll be missing something if you purchase an earlier edition. The older the textbook, the less you’ll have to pay so it’s worth checking out if you can use an older edition.


Factor in shipping costs. Don’t forget the extra $4 you’ll have to pay to ship each book you buy online. Most of the time books you find online will still be cheaper even with the extra shipping costs. But every once in a while those extra couple bucks won’t make buying online worthwhile.


Go to the bookstore as soon as possible. If it is cheaper to buy the book at the bookstore than online, make sure you get there early. This will give you the best chance of getting any available used books. You won’t want to be stuck spending a couple hundred dollars on a new book just because you slept in.

Know when the return dates are. Campus bookstores have peculiar rules about returning books. You won’t want to be stuck with a book for a class you’re not taking just because you missed the return date. I bought the books I needed at the bookstore while I waited for the books I bought online to arrive. This allowed me to be prepared for class while saving money by ordering my books online.

Check the library. If your professor hasn’t put the books on reserve, you might be able to check out a required book for the entire semester. If they are on reserve, check out the local library or a nearby college.

Share. If you are taking a class with someone you know, consider sharing books for that class, especially if they live close to you. This is also a good solution if your professor created a packet of material that you won’t be able to find anywhere else but your campus bookstore.


Check the syllabus. Sometimes you’ll only need a few chapters of a book so check your syllabus to see if this is the case. It might be cheaper to make copies of those chapters than to purchase the whole book.


>>Buy chapters of some e-books instead of the whole book at CengageBrain.


Don’t buy all the books. You might not need all the books that are listed, even “required” ones. Sometimes professors just want you to have it as a reference but you won’t actually use it in class.

Apply for book vouchers. Your school may have a program to help you get funding for books. They will likely have limited funds available so get your application in early. You may not be able to apply for funds for more than one or two semesters so this probably isn’t a permanent solution.


Don’t sell your books back to the bookstore. At the end of the semester all of your friends will head to the bookstore to sell back their books and they’ll only come back with about $30. Campus bookstores make a lot of money buying back your books – don’t fall into that trap! Almost always, you can get a lot more money selling your books on half.com or amazon.com than you will at the bookstore.


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