7 Tips for Scoring a Cheap College Textbook

It’s no secret that college textbooks are expensive, and that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. With all of the other higher education expenses to worry about, spending an unnecessary amount on books that you may not use much can be frustrating. Fortunately, there are many ways to find a cheap college textbook and save money.

This guide will explore how you can avoid paying full price for a college textbook so you can focus your attention on what matters most: your education. 

Ready to learn more? Let’s get started. 

1. Avoid the Bookstore

Going to your college’s bookstore is unavoidable; that’s where you get all of your apparel to showcase school pride, after all. It can be tempting to get all your material from the bookstore, especially since it’s all right there. The reality is that this is the last place you should go to for textbooks. 

Even used textbooks at the bookstore tend to be sold at a higher price than what you’ll find online. The new textbooks tend to be more expensive than anywhere else. 

The only exception to this rule is that sometimes professors create custom-printed packets. These are usually only available at the bookstore, so you don’t necessarily have an alternative to that.

2. Try the Library 

Although you’re not going to find an extensive collection of textbooks at the library, you’re sure to find copies of many texts used in liberal arts courses. English majors and the like are at an advantage because many literature classes are built around classics that are easy to rent from the library.

The downside to finding textbooks at the library is that there is often little availability. If your classmates are also looking to save some money, you might not find a copy when you need it. Look at the syllabus ahead of time and reserve copies of the books you need at least two weeks ahead of time.

3. Buy Used When Possible

It should come as no surprise that many students will choose courses based on textbook costs, and they’ll often avoid buying the materials when they can. One of the best ways to find cheap textbooks is to find used books. This is a vast market since many students buy these books for a single semester.

Finding multiple used bookstores near any major college campus shouldn’t be challenging. You can also find used textbooks online from bookselling websites. With all of the different options for finding college textbooks for cheap, new books are only worth the investment in limited circumstances.

4. Rent Instead of Buy

One of the best ways to save money on textbooks is to rent instead of buy. Textbook rental services are more popular than ever, and they’re a great option to save on overall costs. You can also rent e-book versions of your textbooks which are more affordable since it’s a short-term license. 

If you decide to rent physical textbooks, you’ll need to make sure you take good care of them. Any rented textbook returned in poor condition will result in paying extra fees.

Remember that when you’re renting a textbook, you can’t sell the book back. The one big benefit of buying new or used textbooks is recouping some of the cost after you aced the final exam.

5. Wait Until After the First Class to Buy

There are plenty of college professors who are as frustrated about textbook costs as their students. Many academic departments tend to pressure professors into selecting the more costly options for their courses. The good news is that professors are willing to work with students who can’t afford expensive material. 

The expense may be unavoidable in some classes, but professors will inform you that they will use only a couple of sections of the textbook over the course. Sometimes they’ll offer options that are free or affordable.

Not bringing books to class on the first day may feel like a risk, but you’ll see that it’s often not a big deal. The first day usually involves discussing course expectations and the syllabus. 

6. Go Electronic

If you buy a slim e-reader, you have the option of getting your textbooks in e-book format. They’re a cheaper option that works for a lot of students. As more publishers embrace this option, you’ll find that it’s a better alternative than hauling loads of heavy textbooks around all day.

E-books may not be for you if you prefer to highlight in the book itself or like to take notes on the margins. With that said, many books can be digitally highlighted and bookmarked, so it’s all about preference.

7. Split With a Friend

You’ll need to make sure the schedule works out so you can each have access to it for studying or going to class, but if you’re taking the same introductory course on different days, sharing is a great option. Find a friend taking the same class at different times than you and split the costs of a used book. Although this isn’t the ideal option, it could save you money if its timing works out. 

Scoring a Cheap College Textbook

As wonderful as it is to further your education, the rising college costs can cause a lot of financial anxiety. Plenty of students look for ways to save some extra cash, and one of the best ways is knowing how to save money on textbooks. College textbooks can cost hundreds of dollars, and you might require several for each class; those costs can add up. 

Use these tips to learn how to get a cheap college textbook; you’re sure to save a good amount of money you can put away for next semester’s tuition.

Ready to find some college textbook savings? Be sure to browse Textbook Rentals to find what you need.