6 ways to get cheap textbooks
As college students, each semester we're faced with the tedious task of finding textbooks for our classes. Before spending money on a book you only use once, check out these six ways to find cheap textbooks for your college courses.
1. Don't buy college textbooks
Most of the textbooks you use for class will never be used again ... and the information inside of them may be forgotten as well. So why not save lots of money and rent textbooks, rather than buying them? Selling your college textbooks to a bookstore, or another student, may seem like a good way to get your money back after purchasing a textbook, but you'll be lucky if you get even half of the original price.
2. Stop avoiding used textbooks!
You’re only using the textbook for a single class, so why pay full price? Save money by getting them used. Used textbooks aren’t totally horrid, actually. Often times the difference between new and used is minimal. In fact, I’ve gotten some of my best studying done from used textbooks — they sometimes come with pre-highlighted material from the past user!
3. Don’t buy before you ask
I can’t even begin to count the times I’ve been in a class where on the first day the professor said that the $150 textbook we "needed" was actually only recommended. “Recommended” in college basically means you can do without it. Your safest bet for making sure you don’t waste money is to email your professor before the class starts and they’ll likely tell you if you actually need the textbook and how soon into the course.
4. Don’t order textbooks at the last minute
Not only does waiting until the last minute decrease your chances of finding cheap textbooks, it puts you at risk for falling behind. A large portion of textbook shopping happens online, where shipping time applies. If you wait too long to order your textbooks, you may be unable to complete assignments while your textbook is in transit from Narnia. Sure, you can borrow your friend's, but they're going to need the book, too. Don’t wait until the last minute!
5. Don't order the first textbook you see
Remember that your school is not the only one who sells books. Go to multiple sites and compare new and used textbooks to find the best deal and save some money. Some search engines will even compare textbook prices for you and show you all the options on one page — they'll show you options to rent textbooks, buy used textbooks, and will compare those prices to new textbooks.
6. The latest edition isn’t the only edition
One of the many marvels of the college textbook world is how quickly publishers come up with a newer version of a text after releasing the last. Of course, the newer edition is about double the cost of the older one, but in reality there's barely any difference. To save money on college textbooks, get the older edition. But, proceed with caution. Don’t buy the older version without asking your professor first. Even though it will save you money, you could be struggling all semester trying to find chapter seven's content, which is really located in chapter 12 of your edition.
No matter the course or semester, these tips will help you save time and money as a college student. Textbook shopping can seem like a nightmare to most students, but it's completely manageable. You'll find that putting in the effort is totally worth it.
Find cheap textbooks easily using our textbook search. It will let you rent textbooks, compare new and used prices online, and even sell back your books all in one place.
Animations courtesy of Giphy.
About the author
Cecilia will give us an inside look at a day in the life of a college student, sharing her journey with us every step of the way. She’s a second-year public relations major at the University of Florida. Her hometown is in south Florida, in the small town of Clewiston, and she’s ready to make her mark. “Not only am I learning to adjust to a bigger city, but all of the adventures this big university brings along with it.”