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Where to Find Cheap Textbooks for School

Updated on January 4, 2013
Get Creative to Save Money
Get Creative to Save Money

Are you paying too much?

There are times when finding affordable books for school can seem like an impossible task. As if paying the ever rising costs of tuition isn't enough, the skyrocketing cost of texts can easily amount to more than $1,000 per semester. In fact, It is not uncommon for students to see prices of $150, $200, or sometimes even $300 for graduate level programs.

Do you ever get the feeling that your college is ripping you off when you are buying your supplies? It may not just be a feeling! Have you ever wondered why textbooks are so much more expensive than a regular book that you would read for pleasure? More often than not, sellers charge outrageous prices simply because they can.

The schools and retail bookstores know that you don't have much of a choice when it comes to buying material that is necessary for a class. One of the most common tricks they use is to lure you into buying from them at inflated prices by promising to let you sell it back to them at the end of the semester.

What they don't tell you is that they're only going to offer you a small fraction of the price you originally paid for the book knowing that you don't have much use for it once you've completed your course. The stores then turn around and mark it up to nearly the same price as a new one and sell it to another student for a huge profit. Are you angry yet? Fortunately, you don't have to get trapped in this cycle and there is a better way to buy your school supplies!

Finding Deals

The good news is, you don't have to get stuck in the system and overpay for your school books every time. Despite what your school or local college bookstore may want you to believe, there are other places where you can find the same thing without the added markup.

You can find many of these essential materials at a lower price if you know where to look for discounts and bargains. In addition to smart shopping, you can also save money by doing some planning with your friends who have the same class requirements as you do.

While it might be tempting to always take classes together with your friends, staggering some of those courses will allow you to share some of your required reading material and make one purchase instead of two. This can help you cut down on some of the expenses you will incur, but it doesn't eliminate the need for buying altogether.

Below you will find several great places to get cheap textbooks for your next class.

Places Where You Can Save

1. Amazon - sells both new and used textbooks and many times you can find a required book for far less than what the school bookstore charges for the same item. Just be sure to shop carefully and check to make sure that you are getting the correct edition for your class.

You will find the best deals on used items but make sure you look closely at the condition so you don't end up with a copy that is missing pages or is full or highlights and personal notes.

2. eBay - This is another great place to score a killer deal on a new or used textbook. While most people think of eBay as a place to find only used goods, many sellers offer brand new books at deeply discounted prices.

It is common for colleges to use the same editions for similar courses. This makes them much easier to find than you might expect. I've purchased used texts for school on eBay for as little as $2 plus the cost of shipping and new ones for around $20.

Try searching both the listing title and description to find exactly what you are looking for. Once you find a seller you are happy with, be sure to bookmark him or her in your account so you can quickly make contact the next time you need to find something.

3. - Another good place to look is Be sure to use the local version of the site that corresponds to the geographic area closest to you since you will probably have to travel to meet the seller face-to-face. While this isn't as convenient as the other methods in that your order is not shipped directly to your front door, it is a great place to connect with other students at your school and exchange books while cutting out the bookstore profit from the equation.

4. Your Local Student Newspaper - If you want to find a few good deals through book exchanges or perhaps sell your own used items for more than you could get at the store, check the classified ad section of your local student newspaper. If you don't see anything right away, try placing a want ad or setting up your own exchange. You might be surprised at how many other students just like you are looking for bargains and are willing to take part.

5. Rent it - You don't always need a full length book but sometimes you will need part of it for a class. Websites like offer the ability to rent a textbook or download each chapter and section at a much cheaper price than if you were to buy the entire thing. Prices start as low as $1.99 and you can download what you need instantly.

6. The Library - I'm referring to your local library here and not the one at your school. Don't bother with the library at your school because even if they have what you need, you probably won't be able to get it at the right time. This one is a bit of a long shot but I had to include it because I have had some degree of success with it and it's better than cheap, it's free!

Enjoy Your Savings!

If you commit to scouring this list of resources before you buy your school materials each semester, you can start saving money immediately on your textbook purchases. It is amazing how quickly that extra money can add up! That translates directly into more money in your pocket for clothes, eating out, gas, and all kinds of things that are much more fun than buying books for college.

Every once in a while, you may still get stuck paying full price when your class is using a brand new title or a newly revised edition but most of the time you will save a significant amount of money. Even when you are taking a class that demands a newly published book that has just been released, see if there is a downloadable version available that might be less expensive than the regular retail price for a hard copy. I know it seems like a lot of work to save a few bucks but if you are financing your education with student loans, you can really cut down on the amount of money you will owe when you complete your degree.

What's the most you have ever paid for a textbook?

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    • wsupaul88 profile image

      wsupaul88 6 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Cool Hub, I just wrote a similar one! You are a great writer!

    • FirstStepsFitness profile image

      FirstStepsFitness 7 years ago

      Welcome to HubPages ! Great article lots of useful information .