Hey guys with school starting this week I thought it could be helpful to give some tips for getting textbooks at the best price ! Whether you are just starting school, or you’re unsure of all the tips for scoring the cheapest textbook, I have some advice that may help you!
As a undergrad, and now grad student, I know the struggle of expensive textbooks, I’ve spent up to $500-800 in a semester before and it really sucks. Sometimes there’s just no way around it, the professor won’t budge on the edition or where it comes from but, a lot of the time you can get the textbook for much cheaper than in the bookstore, and other outlets.
One major piece of advice: always remember to never buy the textbook before you get to class, sometimes the professor tells you you do not need it or will say get the earlier edition. So it’s important to wait and see first!
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1. So the first place to look for text books is Amazon. They have MOST textbooks and offer free student prime, so you can get prime books within two days, which is fantastic if you have an assignment. However, what I will say about Amazon prime is that they tend to jack-up the prices for textbooks and they can try to get you to pay for prime after the student trial is up. I’ve been there, and it is no fun to be charged $80 dollars especially on a college budget. If they do charge you, it is possible to reverse it though with a lot of effort.
You can also buy without prime, which is typically cheaper. So, if your professor is nice and gives you leeway you can do that.
Another amazon tip is while you wait for the non-prime text to arrive, you can buy the textbook at the book store and return. Some book stores do not let you to return after a week or two, but they may let you rent the book and return after a longer date! So there are always options with using Amazon.
Amazon also has e-books, but in my experience it is just as costly and I prefer the paper books!
2. You can also look for an older edition and ask the professor if it will work. A lot of the time professors will let you use a cheaper and older edition, I’ve even had teachers give us old page numbers to make it work. You can also email your professor and ask them if they know previous students looking to sell their old textbook!
3. Check online groups like, Facebook groups. I have both bought and sold textbooks on Facebook sell pages, just make sure to meet in a safe place, with a buddy, and to check that all the pages are there! You can also haggle on the price, because trust me when someone wants that textbook out of their lives they may be willing to sell for less!
4. Ask other people who have taken the course if the books are absolutely necessary. We’ve all been there, bought the expensive textbook the professor insisted you buy or else you wouldn’t be able to pass the class, and lone-and- behold you do not even crack open the text and yet still manage to get the A. This one is a little bit risky, but in the past I have had friends who have taken a course with a professor where they said you have to get the book and they told me that I would be fine without it. I didn’t purchase the book and ending up getting an A in the course. So, it may work, just take the advice with a grain of salt, what works for one person doesn’t mean it works for everyone!
5. Have a friend/ roommate taking the same course ? Ask them to share! Also you can make copies of the book if it is short, or you and a few others could all pay for the book and then make copies. The only difficult part is, then who gets the real book?
6. Check-out other websites like Chegg, and book byte. I have gotten books from both. They also give money back when you return your book in good shape!
7. Rent books. When I was a freshman I thought I needed to keep all of my psychology textbooks for my book selves and for my own knowledge, but you know what, I never re-opened them or needed them. Renting textbooks is a great alternative to paying big bucks for them. You may be thinking, but what a waste of money, why not buy it and re-sale. Well, textbooks are like cars, once you buy them brand new and shiny, they lose value quickly and it isn’t a guarantee that the professor will use the book in the future and that someone will be willing to purchase your book for the higher price.
My favorite site to rent from is Amazon, but you can also rent from the bookstore. Also you can save a ton if you wait to rent the book after the first week or two of class. If the professor says something like “You won’t need the book until the third week” then rent it the moment you need it because sites like amazon will rent for a time-period, and they drop their escalated prices after the first few weeks of school!
8. Buy and re-sale. Like I mentioned before, this isn’t my favorite method but it does work, but say you buy a book for $100 new, its hard to sell for $80-100 used, so why not rent it for $20-30 same cost, and less hassle of trying to re-sale.
9. Check to see if it is at the library. Many professors will have copies there you can loan from, however, some libraries only let you rent for a certain number of days, so be careful when choosing this option. You can also just ask the professor to loan you their extra copy, typically if they know you already they may, or if you cannot afford it they are genuinely nice people and will try to help you out. So if you are really struggling to buy books, always ask them for advice.
10. If there is a book at the library, and you only need a few chapters for assignments, you can always make copies at the library. You can also check local libraries too!
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I hope that some of these tips were helpful to you, if you didn’t know these tips and plan on using them, comment below! Have tips of your own? Tell me in the comments below.
Thanks for reading,