How To Save Money On Textbooks

How To Save Money On Textbooks
How To Save Money On Textbooks | Image Credit: iStock

While the college bookstore is tempting in all its shiny, fully stocked glory, it’s generally the last place you want to buy textbooks. Even used textbooks at the bookstore typically have a higher markup than you’ll see online, and new books are often more expensive there than anywhere else.

According to the National Association of College Stores, college students spend an average of $655 per year on textbooks. Even though this figure is down from two and four years ago by $667 and $702, respectively – it’s still a lot of money, especially for broke college students.

Depending on your major, your average book expense may be much more or less than $655; hefty textbooks used in math and science classes, for instance, tend to be more expensive than novels needed for literature classes. Still, no matter your course of study, you can apply some of these essential tips to save on college textbooks.


Average Cost of Textbooks

College textbooks constitute a considerable expense to students. While figures vary by school, The College Board estimates an average of $1,200 annually for books and supplies for students at 4-year public universities.

This includes electronic educational materials, course packs or other books and media required for courses, blue books, binders, and other supplies. Instead of paying the total price for your readers, consider some options listed below to save money and still get the materials you need for class.


Money-Saving Ideas


Buy Used Books

Skip the high prices for new textbooks and look for used options. You can buy used books at your college bookstore, but you can also find good deals online.

You can also find older versions of your textbooks available for much less than the new books, which often come with supplementary material like workbooks, CDs, and videos. Most professors don’t use this additional material for their courses, but you can check with them first if you have concerns. If you’re ordering online, order plenty of time to have the books when classes start.


Buy E-Books

Textbooks can be found in electronic form, and you’ll find that these versions are usually more affordable than the print option. These books are available through online sources, or you can check with your college bookstore, which might be selling electronic versions. This is also an inexpensive way to read assigned fiction, poetry or biographies for your literature or other liberal arts courses. However, e-books can be challenging to navigate, making it hard to follow in class.


Rent Textbooks

You can rent textbooks from your college bookstore or find several sources online that rent out texts. This can be cheaper than buying a book at the beginning of the semester and selling it back after finals. However, remember that you won’t be able to highlight info in your book and might need to return it in the original packaging.


Look For Open-Source Textbooks

While not that common, you can also find open-source textbooks available online. These materials operate under a license that allows them to be used for free. These materials can also be downloaded or used in e-books or other formats. You’ll need to check with your instructors to see if the assigned textbook is available as an open source. Books no longer copyrighted, such as classics for your English courses, are also free.


Buy Books From Other Students

Buying college textbooks and books from other students may save you several dollars. Various websites allow students to sell their books directly to other students. You can also check with your friends to see if they have books you can buy or find sale postings online or on campus.