If you’re about to step into college, you’ll soon encounter the topic of textbooks (especially their cost). A common question from college first-years is how to avoid spending so much for textbooks– they cost a pretty penny!
In this post, I’m going to show you 7 ways to save money on a college textbook. Being a college student costs a lot already, so avoid this extra expense as best you can. Keep reading for my advice!
Stop, Wait, Think Before Buying
You may be able to see what textbooks your course requires before the semester actually begins, often on a syllabus or on the course website. However, before immediately buying them, stop and wait.
You should wait until you attend the first class to see if your professor explicitly states that you need to buy a copy of the textbook. If they don’t say anything about the textbook, don’t be afraid to raise your hand and ask; you can also wait until the end of the class and go up to ask personally.
If you somehow can’t get a clear message from the professor, ask around. You can also ask past students of the course through your university’s Reddit, Discord server, Facebook page, etc.
In any case, don’t waste money on something you’re not going to need at all. So stop, wait, and think before buying a textbook.
Buy From Past Students
If a textbook is actually required, avoid paying for the full thing; a textbook can cost up to a few hundred dollars, and several textbooks each semester can add up.
You can buy secondhand books from past students or from online. At the end of each semester, some students may post their books online for sale. You may find them on:
- Your university’s Reddit, or a specific for-sale Reddit
- Your university’s Discord server, or a specific for-sale server
- Your university’s Facebook page for students
- Your university’s Snapchat story
- Other social media run by students
Related Post: 22 Things I Bought & Loved As A College Student
Buy From Local Bookstores
Some local bookstores, especially those in college towns and near colleges, will buy and resell students’ textbooks for a cheaper price. A bookstore is also a relatively more credible place to buy textbooks, because you have somewhere to reach out to with any concerns.
Check out your local bookstores, and also other secondhand bookstores like Half Price Books. You may also find them at online secondhand booksellers like ThriftBooks.
Split The Cost With Others
If the cost of a textbook is too much for you (and it understandably is so for many college students), consider splitting the cost with a friend or another student in the class.
If you’d like to split the cost with another student, be on the lookout during the first week of the semester. On the first day of classes, try to talk to the people around you. Ask whether they’ve got ahold of a textbook and if not, whether they’d like to split the cost of one with you.
If the textbook is required and there aren’t any free sources online, it’s likely that many students are in the same place as you– desperate for a cheap textbook. So don’t feel ashamed, and ask around. You might make a few friends in the process!
Find Free Online Copies
Speaking of free online sources, this is my go-to method of getting ahold of a textbook.
As you probably know by now, you can find almost anything online. This includes full copies of college textbooks! The most trusted and commonly used website to find textbooks is LibGen. I recommend searching by the textbook’s ISBN number (its unique identification number), but you can also search by author, title, etc.
If you can’t find the textbook, consider searching around other sources (especially Reddit) with the title. And if you still can’t find it, it may be the rare case that this textbook is not available on the Internet (yet). Try one of the other strategies in this post!
If you can find the textbook, congrats, you probably just saved at least a hundred dollars. You can download the textbook as a PDF into your files, or an epub file into your Books, or even export/import directly into Goodnotes or Notability. This last choice will let you annotate it easily, if that’s what your course requires.
Related Post: How To Take Digital Notes The Right Way
Find Past Editions
Unless your professor/syllabus explicitly states so, you don’t need to buy the exact or newest edition of the textbook. The content of the textbook is usually the same, or at least extremely similar. In my experience, the only differences were the numbering of review questions and the organization of chapters.
Just like with the original textbook, you can try to find free copies online, secondhand copies at local bookstores or online, and/or split the textbook with a peer.
Sell Your Own Copy
Lastly, here’s a valuable strategy if you end up owning a physical copy of the textbook. At the end of the semester, consider selling the textbook to other (future) students.
Just like you at the beginning of the semester, students will be looking for cheap copies. You can sell your own copy online or to a local bookstore to make some money back. Here are a few places to try:
- Discord server
- Facebook page
- Half Price Books
And there you have it, 7 solid strategies to help you save money on college textbooks. You can likely use these same methods all throughout your years of college, and hopefully, never spend an excess amount on a textbook ever again.
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