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How to save money on college textbooks

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Save a buck on a book: savvy students buy used college textbooks

Save a buck on a book: savvy students buy used college textbooks

Paying a college tuition is one of the most expensive investments anyone can make in a life time.  Additional college expense only add to the staggering and ever-rising costs of education. College textbook bills, for example, can cost thousands of dollars a semester. 

In particular, medical textbooks, specialized scientific and engineering textbooks as well as certain literature on economics, politics and philosophy can run between $500 and $800 per book.

Even if you can’t change your major, you can save some change when it comes to purchasing textbooks. There are a variety of helpful tips that can help students, and parents, know how to save money on college textbooks. If you are a college student, or a parent on a budget, here are five simple tips that can certainly save you a buck on a book.

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Save a Buck on a Book:  How to Find Deep Discounts on College Textbooks

1.   Know the Required Reading List Ahead of Time: 

One of the most important ways to save money on college books is to try to find out about the required reading lists for your college courses as soon as possible. Meet with the professor, look at the course syllabus posted online, and most definitely, show up for that first day of class when the required reading list is handed out.

If you decide to order your textbooks from discounted online sellers, knowing the reading list early on will give you advance time for shipping and delivery.

2.   Buy Used Textbooks: 

Generally, campus bookstores will carry a selection of new and used textbooks. Opt for the used books. Try to make it to the campus bookstore early in the course, before all the used copies have sold out.

If you can’t find any cheap deals on textbooks in your campus bookstore, scope out online bookstores such as CampusBooks, eBay’s, VarsityBooks, Bookfinder, BigWords, CheapBooks and A number of online bookstores, even major online sellers like, will offer a selection of used and discounted books.

When it comes to buying used textbooks, it pays to make absolutely certain that you are buying  the right edition of the book by double checking the title, author, publisher, edition number, and ISBN number. Having the correct ISBN number will also help you to compare prices between different online retailers.

3.   Share the Book: 

If a particular title is not available at discounted prices, or is simply too expensive, ask a friend, roommate or classmate if you can share a book with them and split the cost. While this option will certainly be easier on your wallet, the downside is that you may have less reliable access to the book.
If you opt for this choice, learning how to take effective notes on the chapters will be key to making it work, especially when it’s not your turn to have the book and you have questions. 

4.   Re-Sell Your Books: 

Regardless of whether you buy new or used textbooks, it is possible to recoup some of your investment at the end of the year. When you are finished using a particular textbook, at the end of the semester, or end of the year, consider re-selling your book back to your college bookstore, or through online discount retailers.
5.   Rent a Book or Visit Your Local Library: 

Many college libraries set aside copies of textbooks for students to borrow for free. It is also worth the effort to check with your local city or county library for copies of any required textbooks. If you can’t afford the hardcover edition of a book, keep an open mind about alternative book formats such as audio books, or Kindle and iPad editions.

In addition to libraries that allow patrons to borrow books, there are a rising number of online sites that allow members to rent books either for free, or for a minimal fee. Some of these sites may not have text books, but can be a good source for literature, anthologies, nonfiction and poetry. Students may opt to rent textbooks that are particularly expensive, or are only needed for a short period of time. 


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