6 Tips to Save Money on Textbooks

With the fall semester upon us, that means it’s once again time to buy your textbooks. Let’s face it, paying $400+ for textbooks every semester sucks. While buying textbooks every semester isn’t avoidable, paying too much for them is. Below are six useful tips and tricks on how to save hundreds every semester on your textbooks.

Buy Used

If available, used textbooks are a great way to save money. While used textbooks might not be as aesthetically pleasing, they read almost the exact same way as new textbooks. Used textbooks can cost as little as half the price of the new version. While there may be some highlighting or notes written on the pages, most bookstores and retailers check their inventory before selling to make sure they aren’t unreadable

Buy International

Another trick is to buy international editions of textbooks. Publishers outside of the United States will get the rights to print the textbooks in other countries, and make them at a fraction of the cost as the books in America. The book may look different on the outside, and a few of the diagrams may differ, but overall the books are nearly identical. You can always ask your professor about international editions at the start of the semester. You can find softcover international editions of your textbooks at a fraction of the cost of regular ones.

Compare Prices and Buy Online

Buying textbooks online should be a no-brainer at this point. University bookstores usually mark up textbooks 10-25%, and cannot compete with online shops like Amazon and Half.com. When buying textbooks online, you should always use a comparison site to find the best deal. There are lots of them on the web, but I recommend Affordabook.com*. Using a comparison site will allow you to see textbook prices at all of the best textbook shops on the web. Not only will this save you money, it will also save you time. Why check ten stores for textbooks when you can search one and get the same results?

Share Textbooks

When you were a kid, your parents always taught you to share. It might not have been fun back then, but now it can save you money! If you can find a few friends in your class that want to share textbooks with you, you can save lots of money. Just make sure you all agree on a sharing schedule, or to study together before tests so that no one is left without a textbook the night before an exam.

Check your Library

If you don’t think you will need your textbooks 24/7, you could always check with the library or professor to see if they have an extra copy. For a lot of popular classes, the library will have the textbook on reserve. You won’t be able to check it out, but you can spend as much time at the library as you want with it. The same usually works with the professor. Professors usually lend textbooks out for hours at a time, or let you read them during their office hours. For courses that don’t emphasize textbooks, this is a great option.

Rent Textbooks

Over the past 3-4 years, renting textbooks has become the new buying. Sites like Chegg and BookRenter allow you to rent your textbooks for 60 days, 90 days or the entire semester. At the beginning of the term they ship you the book, and then after you are done with it you just ship it back to them, usually with a prepaid label. Textbook renting is similar to a guaranteed buyback program, except you don’t have to remember to sell the book back after the semester. If you decide you want to keep the textbook after the semester for reference purposes, they also offer affordable purchase prices.

If you take advantage of the aforementioned tips, you can save lots of cash on your textbooks this semester. That extra money can go a long to way ensuring that you have a memorable four years at college. Good luck with your classes this semester and have a great fall!

*Vinnie Thomas is the founder and co-owner of Affordabook.com, a price comparison site for textbooks and novels.


FatWallet Tip: Check out Textbooks.com and Bookbyte.com for textbooks and cash back through FatWallet.

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