Tips for Getting Cheap College Textbooks

The Best Ways to Get College Textbooks

What is the best way to get textbooks for college? While deciding how to purchase or rent textbooks is up to the preferences of each individual student, here are some suggestions for those who are concerned with saving money or want to know what to consider when choosing how to get a textbook.

Buying a Textbook New

Sometimes buying a new textbook is unavoidable, since some textbooks are workbooks or come with web codes needed for the class. Other times, teachers will require a textbook that can only be purchased at the university store because they own the copyright or a teacher who works at the university wrote the textbook. If neither of these is the case, buying a textbook brand-new is usually only required if you prefer it or want a guarantee that there will be no notes inside.

Renting a Textbook

If the book is for a class that you have to take and are planning on never using/reading it again, your best option is to rent from a local bookshop, or an online shop, such as Chegg. Renting the textbook from your university store is usually the most expensive option, so comparing prices is always a good way to verify that you are getting the best deal possible. You may have the option to rent a e-book or the actual physical book.

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Textbooks on

If you rent from, they will send you a copy of the book in the mail. Make sure you verify that the required return date is outside of the last day of your semester. It is also important to keep the receipt and packaging sticker for sending the textbook back on-hand just in case you want to make a return sometime sooner. You will be required to send the book back before its due date to ensure that no additional fees are charged. Some students choose to purchase Amazon Prime for students since it provides free two-day shipping.

Buying Used Textbooks

If you plan on taking heavy notes inside of the actual book itself, your best option is to buy a used version of the textbook that has no previous notes or very little markings inside. Viewing the book in person can help with this, or if you are ordering online, sources such as previously-owned library books usually have little to no notes inside. On the other hand, maybe you want a book with lots of notes in it, as sometimes reading from someone else’s marked up book can help spark new ideas that you wouldn’t have noticed as much before! If you want to own the textbook or are planning on using it for future classes, buying a textbook used is much cheaper than buying it new. When buying a used textbook, make sure it’s the book you need for class. If it’s an older edition, be sure to check with your professor ahead of time to see if it will work.

Checking Out From the Library

Most libraries don’t check out books for more than two weeks, and since other students probably also want to check out those same textbooks from the library to save money as well, the only time this is suggested is if you have talked to the teacher ahead of time (or have looked at the syllabus schedule) and know that you will only need the book for a short amount of time.

Borrowing a Textbook

You may have also considered simply borrowing the textbook from a friend who has taken the same class. If so, good for you! Free is always the best price, and if your friend has taken the class and written notes, you may find it almost like a study guide for the course. Make sure you are respectful of their property, and keep in mind that you will have to return it to them once you are finished with the class.

Sharing a Textbook With Someone Else

Some textbooks are only required for outside-of-class reading and will seldom (if ever) be used in class. If you have talked to your instructor and this is the case, you might consider sharing the book with someone you know who is also in the class. Keep in mind that you will have to decide who gets to use the book at certain times and on certain days. You will need to be accountable for your treatment of the book and accept that there may be times when you don’t have access to it.

Final Thought

Overall, it is a good idea to simply compare the prices of each option and figure out which option is best for you based on your situation. Emailing teachers (or talking to them in person) about textbooks beforehand can help you gain a better understanding about how you will use the book in class and for assignments/studying. This will also help you decide between paper copies versus eBooks/online copies.

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