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College Textbooks - Tips on How to Save Money During College

Updated on November 5, 2011

If you have ever had to purchase textbooks, then you know that they are not cheap. Students often spend hundreds of dollars a semester on textbooks.

The university that I attend has a bookstore on campus that supplies all the required college textbooks for each of the courses offered at the university. Many students opt for this route because buying books from the campus bookstore is the easiest way to go. But, that option is NOT the cheapest.

In my experience, I have found that by spending a little extra time doing some research, I have saved a TON of money on textbooks by not buying them at my campus bookstore. Ordering them online may take some extra work, but in the end, it is well worth your time and effort.

In addition to saving some extra money by ordering your texts online, I'll tell you about some other ways you can save some dough that have worked for me.

There are both pros and cons to ordering online.


  • You can save LOTS of money
  • Higher probability of a discount


  • There is the possibility that you may not order the required edition
  • You may not order the correct version. For example most textbooks come in an international version and an american version. They can differ in some ways. Note: international versions are often super cheaper than american versions, so beware!

Textbook Sites

Here are some great sites online that you can purchase textbooks from. I find that if I can't find a textbook on one site, I can go to another site and find it.

These are other ways that I have been able to save some money on textbooks.

  1. Share with a friend and split the cost- this only works well if you live near your friend. This works really well between roommates. Some professors frown on this practice because they would prefer each student to own their own text. It really depends on the class you are taking.
  2. Purchase used texts whenever possible- I have never bough a brand new text by my choice. I have only purchased a new textbook if that was all I could find. I actually prefer to have a used text because if you are lucky, the main points are already highlighted by the previous user for you! Of course, that only helps if the previous owner was a good student : )
  3. Resale after you are through- If you don't wish to keep you text after you have completed the course, sell it! Odds are that you won't get the same price you paid for it originally, but you will get a good chunk of change for it regardless. Just keep it in good condition!
  4. Downloadable textbooks- Some courses offer books online if you don't want to buy the book. These are free and accessible with a password from your teacher. I have used an online book for one of my accounting courses, and found that using an online book was more difficult for me. There's just something about having a book right in front of you where you can blanket the pages in post-its if you need to. But, I know other people who love having their texts online.


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    • brandrocker profile image

      brandrocker 7 years ago

      The cons side you have refer to can be avoided if you know the ISBN. Otherwise, check the website like Amazon, where you can read first few pages online before placing the order.

    • cjcarter profile image

      cjcarter 8 years ago

      Glad to help! I know I'll miss the summer once it passes for sure. One semester I had to spend around $400 on textbooks...or, thats what my campus bookstore wanted for them anyway ; ) One of my friends is pre-med, and all her books cost around $900! Ridiculous!

    • Chris1|Chris2 profile image

      Chris1|Chris2 8 years ago from Los Angeles

      I will definitely be checking out these websites in the coming weeks... School fast approaches once again! What happened to the summer?!

      These sites should definitely ease the initial pain of buying all those textbooks. It's crazy how much the gouge students at my college's bookstore!