February 18, 2013

How to Get the Textbooks You Need Without Breaking The Bank

How well I remember being a freshman at Wittenberg University in 1979. When I went to the bookstore to purchase my textbooks the total was something like $275.00. It was an astonishing total to me, and when I sold them back in the Spring all I received was enough money for an ice cream cone and a doughnut at Young's Jersey Dairy. It would have been wonderful to have these avenues open to me back then...
Starting back to school can be a great time to see old friends you haven't seen all summer. It can also be the season of the dreaded book buying experience. Textbooks can typically start at a $100 each for a book you will never use again after the semester is over. It's hard for students to find cheap textbooks that they will be able to access by the time that classes start. Luckily, there are a variety of options so that you get the textbooks you need without breaking the bank.
1) Co-Purchase Textbooks With Classmates
If you’re pressed for cash but you need a textbook to complete assignments it might be a good idea to co-purchase a book with someone in your class. As long as you set parameters for when each person will use the book, this may be a easy way to get the textbook you need at half of the price you would pay on your own.
2) Rent a Textbook
One of the newest secrets to obtaining discounted textbooks is by renting a textbook instead of purchasing a new textbook outright. You can rent print forms of your textbook from your schools bookstore. Or you can rent electronic versions of your textbook directly from publishers or third party websites. These rental fees are often significantly less than the full cost of the textbook.
3) Check Your School's Library
Often times school libraries own copies of all the books that its students are required to purchase. If you are willing to check out your library in advance they may have the textbook that you need. However, because they often only have on copy of the textbook you may not be able to check it out from the library. Thus, you may be forced to make copies of specific portions from the textbook or to complete all the work that requires the textbook while in the library.
4) Look to Older Editions
The moment a textbook comes out with a new edition the older versions greatly depreciate in value. This is ironic because most of the time the newer edition and older version are almost exact replicas of one another. If you need the textbook purely for the content contained in the textbook purchasing an older version may be a great idea. However, this may not be option if you have specific assignments that are keyed to the newest edition of the textbook.
Purchasing required textbooks can be huge blow to a student's wallet. If you are looking for cheap textbooks you may have to get creative and think outside the box. You and a classmate could share a textbook and each pay half on the purchase price. Or you could check and see if your school or other library has a copy of the textbook that you need. If you only need the textbook for the content that it provides you can simply buyer an older edition of the same textbook at a drastically reduced rate.


  1. When my husband went back to school I was amazed at the cost of books, especially those with CD/DVDs, etc. Wish renting would have been an option then.

  2. Thank you for sharing these terrific ideas, Bellezza. I remember spending "an arm and a leg" for my books at the bookstore when I was in college. Today, we have many more options, including getting books online.

  3. some good advice for students there ,all the best stu

  4. I know someone who paid $240 for an A&P book this year...just crazy. Good suggestions to those trying to save $$

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  7. Co-purchasing a book with a classmate is a great idea. As English major, this would not have worked for me. While I did run up some high textbook bills, most of them were for novels, so each book was under 20.00 even when purchased new.

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      At least in your case you were buying novels; they can add to a worthy collection. What was I going to do with Pschology Statistics? I don't have one left!

  8. Great tips! Two more tips is to rent your textbooks or look at your public library for your books. Often professors are using regular books for their classes.

  9. Textbooks are so outrageously expensive. I've tried some of your methods above to save on my son's college textbooks but still, they are so expensive. Good tips though!