College textbooks can sell for upwards of $250 for some subjects and then sell for less than $20 only 3 months later! The markup on textbooks is unbelievable and can present a serious strain on a student’s finances. That’s why it’s important to learn all of the ways to save money on textbooks!
When I was a college student, I rarely ever purchased new textbooks.
How To Save Money On Textbooks
Don’t Buy Them!
The first thing to do is to contact the professor and make sure that the book is required for the class (many book assignments are made by the department, and some teachers will hardly use them).
I had a number of professors who announced on the first day of class that we shouldn’t buy the book because we would be taught and tested on their notes!
Many students were then left in a terrible position because they had already purchased and opened the book – thus making it used (like driving a car off the lot)!
Save Money On Textbooks By Shopping Online
You can save money on textbooks by purchasing them used from Amazon.com, or if you have (or are considering purchasing) a Kindle, buy the electronic version of the book. Amazon advertises that you can save up to 90% on the cost of textbooks by shopping on their website. You can even rent textbooks on your Kindle.
Also, if you sign up for their Amazon Student program (completely free), you are eligible for free 2-day shipping on any order directly from Amazon!
If you can’t find your book on Amazon, be sure to check out Barnes & Noble for their textbook deals.
Buy The Previous Edition
Many textbooks (just about all Economics and Finance books) will simply make small updates and change a few pages around and release a new version.
Check with your professor to see if the previous version will be acceptable. I actually had a few nice professors that put the chapter and page numbers of the current and previous editions for all assignments!
Buy The International Version
Many textbooks sold in the US will have an international counterpart that is nearly or completely identical and sells for a fraction of the cost!
Buy In A Group
Get together with a group of classmates and buy one copy of the book to share. This will work wonderfully depending on the subject.
Finance and other business subjects, where students are often called upon to do group assignments, give ample opportunity for this.
This just calls for a little coordination and trust, but to save over $100 per book…it’s worth it!
Rent Your Textbooks
This is another option that is becoming quite popular. Sites like Chegg and Campus Book Rentals have become very efficient at renting books recently. Even Barnes & Noble offers textbook rentals for my alma mater!
Visit Your School’s Library
Many textbooks – especially older editions – can be found at your school library. If the book is popular, there will probably be a limit on how long you can check it out, but it’s still worth it to take a look.
Call or visit your campus library as soon as you find out what books are required. A benefit of larger universities (like my alma mater), is having a network of dozens of libraries to choose from, some at different schools.
- How have you been able to save on textbook costs?
- Do you have a lot of professors who don’t require them at all?
- Have you had success using and following the previous edition of a textbook?
- Do you have any other tips that should be included here?