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Save money on textbooks for college, the smart way to pay for school

Updated on July 27, 2012

Unfortunately, college is expensive...

And the last thing we need as college students is to pay a lot of money for the textbooks that are required of us for our classes. Most students, at least in the U.S and other countries in which a college education is way overpriced, cannot afford to spend a great deal of money on textbooks. That's why I'm sharing with you the ways I use to purchase my textbooks during my years in college and the years to come. Many of you will probably know of and use these resources already, but I decided to share them here on hubpages, because unfortunately I have spoken to many college students who are not aware of these resources, or for some reason do not take advantage of them. I encourage all college students to be smart about the ways you purchase your textbooks because it will save you a ton of money in the long run.

Okay, time to buy those textbooks!

Aren't you excited? Your classes just began and you need your books already! Don't fret. Here's some ways you can look to buy your books the smart way.

Use your school library

One way you don't have to spend any money on is using the library books at your school. Your school should have the book required for your class on reserve in the library, so you can just go to the library, take it out and study/use it there. This saves money and is a smart way to go because studying at the library is one of the best and most productive ways to study. No distractions, simply studying time.

This website was like heaven sent when I first found out about it. You basically type the name of the book in the search engine of the website and it then lists all the possible websites in which you can purchase your books. No need to look on all the websites yourself, because it lists them for you, AND it lists the price. So you get to choose the cheapest pick out of the bunch. It's a great site to use when buying any book, or selling any book as well.

Buying older editions of the book

After doing a little searching on, you may find that the book is still too expensive for your budget and you don't know what to do. Well, another option is opting to purchase an older edition of the book. It can be the previous edition. Most books slightly change in the next edition, so you probably won't be missing much. You may be missing a chapter or two at the most, but the money you save may be well worth the effort you have to go through to obtain the chapters that you are missing. You can always use the library for just those specific chapters that you are missing.

Take a class with a friend

If you have any friends who need to take some of the same classes as you, why not plan a class to take together and then purchase the book together. OR become friends with someone who is in the same concentration/major as you. Most of the time, students studying the same thing end up in numerous classes together, so why not purchase a book together and even study together. This can help you both out in numerous ways, not just money, but may end up in the both of you receiving higher grades because you are studying together and helping each other out!


Purchasing an E-book ,if it's available online, may be cheaper than buying a hard copy. And it saves you some space as well, by being conveniently located right on your laptop. I found it pretty beneficial at times when I found some of my textbooks online as E-books. But the downside to this way is that many books are not available as E-books, yet.


You can always rent a textbook if it comes out cheaper than buying one. I usually only rented if the textbook was very expensive, because I like to sell back most of my textbooks at the end of the semester, and obviously with renting, you must give the book back when you are done with the semester. But at times, this way can be well worth it.

And don't forget!

When the semester is over and you don't think you will have anymore need for the book, sell it back. Try not to sell it back at your college bookstore, because most likely they will not give you much money back. is an excellent site to sell your books back, because you can pick the highest paying site from the list it gives you. I once got $45 for a textbook that I only spent $20 on! It's well worth it to try it out.

Also, try to plan ahead. When you're stuck rushing to try to get a book you will end up using more money than you could have if you just planned ahead and tried to get the book before the class started or at least in the very first week of the class. It's always better to plan ahead.

TRY not to buy your books at your college bookstore, if you can avoid it. Sometimes you can't avoid it because you need the book quickly, or it may be difficult for you to find the book. But use your own logic, and figure out what will work best for you. My first two years of college, all I did was purchase my books through the college bookstore because I didn't know any better, but I realized that my college bookstore was WAY overpriced compared to the price I found for my books on the internet. Sorry for the loss of our college bookstores in losing their own students, but we must do what is going to benefit us in the end!

Good luck to all you college students, and happy studying!


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    • EuroNinila profile image

      Fotinoula Gypsyy 5 years ago from NYC BABY

      @takerecess, I'm so happy to hear that!! :) That's why I wrote this, because I wish someone had told me this from the beginning. It would have been so much easier and cheaper for me!! Glad I helped :)

    • takerecess profile image

      takerecess 5 years ago from USA

      Im about to start my bachelors degree and this was soooo useful right now. Thanks!

    • EuroNinila profile image

      Fotinoula Gypsyy 5 years ago from NYC BABY

      yeyy your welcome unknown spy, I'm glad that you found out new info here, I always sell back unless I really like the book and want to keep it for my own collection.

      thanks for reading, glad i helped :)

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      I always go to libraries when I need a book. But somehow, we also bought books . but good idea! why not sell it again after semester. I'm gonna check bigwords . thanks a lot!! :)

    • EuroNinila profile image

      Fotinoula Gypsyy 5 years ago from NYC BABY

      thanks DR funom:)

    • EuroNinila profile image

      Fotinoula Gypsyy 5 years ago from NYC BABY

      Yep, you can definitely use sites like BigWords to buy any books, not just textbooks. This hub was geared toward purchasing college textbooks since I have spoken to a number of college students that only go to the bookstore to purchase their books. I think all college students should know that there are other ways, especially because of how expensive a college education is nowadays.

      Thanks for reading crazybeanrider!

    • crazybeanrider profile image

      Boo McCourt 5 years ago from Washington MI

      Buying books in general from sites like BigWords just makes a lot of sense. great site thanks for sharing...

    • EuroNinila profile image

      Fotinoula Gypsyy 5 years ago from NYC BABY

      Thanks and your right, but sometimes the books are very similar if they are only 1 edition apart. I've had professors suggest an older edition of a book because only 1 chapter of the book was different between the editions. I just took out the book on reserve at the library for that 1 chapter and that was it. And I got an A, sometimes you can get lucky.

    • profile image

      timmathisen 5 years ago

      You have some good tips in here, especially using the textbooks on reserve at the library. But I don't think buying an older edition of a textbook is a good idea if you want to get a good grade.