5 Hacks To Save You Money On Your Textbooks

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College textbooks can add hundreds of dollars to your cost of attendance each semester if you pay for them up-front. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to get your college textbooks  for a significantly discounted price, and sometimes even free—you just need to know where to look. Check out these hacks to find cheap textbooks.

1. Use your library (and ALL of your library’s services!)

It’s always worth checking to see if your school’s library has any of the books you need for your classes as soon as you receive the list of assigned textbooks from your professors. Even if your classmates beat you to the shelf (and they definitely will sometimes), many schools have interlibrary loan systems.

If your school has an interlibrary loan system (ask your librarian to find out), you can request the textbook you need in person at your library or online if the interlibrary system is accessible online. If the textbook you requested is available at any of the libraries in your school’s network, it will be sent to your library for you to pick up and check out completely free. It doesn't get any cheaper than free!

2. Check out open-source (a.k.a. free) book programs

Open-source books are e-book versions of texts made available for free online for viewing and downloading. Check with your college library to see if they have their own open-source textbook program, as these may be better stocked with textbooks assigned at your particular school. You can check out a few open-source textbook databases here:

https://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/

https://openlibrary.org/

Gutenberg.org

3. Buy used textbooks off Amazon + other used book sites

Used college textbooks are available on Amazon and sites like campusbooks.com, textbookrush.com, and chegg.com for up to 90% off. Shipping costs can negate some of the savings from used textbook sites, but in general buying your textbooks used online will always be cheaper than paying full price.

4. Rent your books

Renting your college textbooks is a great option if the book you’re purchasing is one you won’t want after the class is over. Rental prices are generally 50% (or less)  cheaper than the full price of textbooks. BUT you have to make sure you return your rentals on time or late fees will make those savings disappear.

5. Share books with your friends and classmates

WARNING: this option requires a pretty considerable willingness to be cooperative from all individuals involved in the sharing. But, if you’ve got strong friendships and a strong desire to save money, sharing textbooks is a great way to get your books. A bonus of sharing is you might get a really awesome study group out of the deal. 

AVOID: sharing books with someone who’s in the same class as you. This can lead to you having to awkwardly pass the book back and forth whenever the professor calls on one of you.

DO: Borrow books from people who already took the class you’re taking. (They might even let you borrow their notes from the class!)