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How to Save Money on College Textbooks

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

You think college is expensive until you see the price of textbooks; Then you absolutely know college is expensive. During my first year of college, I made the mistake sadly a lot of people fall into: buying textbooks exclusively from the college bookstore. What could be so bad about this? They overprice everything because desperate students will go to desperate measures to get what they need. Buying your textbooks from here should be a last resort only, and even then you should still check to see if you have other options. For example, my Psychology 101 textbook cost $191.75 at my bookstore, it was $28.47 to rent it from Amazon, and I got a PDF of the book from a classmate for free. Looking at other ways to get your books will save you money and hopefully allow you to help out your classmates as well. After I explain how to find your books, I am going to give some really important tips about your books, so stay tuned.

So how do I find cheaper textbooks? 

The process is easy but time-consuming. The first thing you want to do is find out the long ISBN number on the book your professor is requiring. Once you have this, throw that number into different websites and price match them all to find your cheapest option. Make sure that you are checking that it is the exact author and title that you need. Here is a list of websites I recommend you search through:

Amazon, Chegg.com, Thriftbooks.com, Bigwords.com, TextBookNova.com, eBookee.com, ManyBooks.net, 2020ok.com, FreeTextBooks.com, oercommons.org, openstax.org, bookboon.com, collegeopentextbooks.org, intechopen.com, Library Genesis, and Google

When trying to see if you can get the textbook from another student, you can go about this in a few different ways. Look for a Facebook group just for people at your college. Many colleges have a separate group just for a book exchange. Sometimes, common areas and libraries have bulletin boards students can post on. If you find one, post on there the book you are looking for and a way for someone to contact you. Finally, you can ask students in the class or class veterans where they got their books and if they are selling them. Through all of these ways, make sure that you are getting the right ISBN of the book you need to ensure you have what your professor requires. 

General Textbook Tips

The cheapest book is almost never a brand new book, so do not worry if there are a few bumps here and there. What matters is the information you get from it, so as long as the appearance does not impact that, you are fine. Publishers release a new edition of the same book every few years, so ask your professor if an older edition can work. Oftentimes these are a lot cheaper being that there is a newer one that professors require. If writing in books isn’t for you, consider renting your books for a fraction of the price. Not writing or highlighting can help you sell your non-rented books after the semester anyway. Finally, ask your professor if they keep a copy in the library. This way you can check the book out for a few hours at a time and don’t have to worry about buying one at all. This can be tricky if you have an assignment due and someone else has the book checked out, but plan ahead in case this happens. 

Overall, the only time you should buy from the bookstore is if you have an open book test in five minutes and haven’t read a single page from the textbook. Otherwise, plan ahead, save money, and rock your classes without breaking the bank.

Taylor Yates

Agnes Scott '22

Hey! I'm Taylor, a softball player from the PNW who is striving for a career in Marketing. I have passion for our environment, cats and longboarding.
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