Ultimate Guide to Buying College Textbooks

The first week of college always sounds like it’s going to be a breeze. You’ll get your syllabi, meet your new classmates and professors, and prep for the school year to come. One thing not many people talk about is textbooks and how much they cost. One textbook might cost you up to $200 (or more!)! I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty steep to me. Especially after having to pay my tuition just a few days ago!

When I first started college, I thought I had to go buy every textbook my professor listed on their syllabi. I thought I had to have everything they told me because if I didn’t, I would fall behind. I ended up dropping hundreds of dollars at my campus’ bookstore. They were definitely happy, I was not. After that first semester, I realized we didn’t really use the textbooks, and if we did, it was things our professor had already gone over in class through powerpoint. So, instead of buying all brand new textbooks, I found a new way to save money and still be able to keep up in the classroom! Below is my guide to how to save money on college textbooks.

One thing to note is that each professor is different, as is each school. What works for me and my college may not for you. I always suggest you look at your class syllabi and look at the schedule. The professor will usually say “Read before coming to class”, etc. so this way you will know when and whether or not you need your textbook.



For our campus, each Class (2016, 2017, 2018, etc) has a Facebook group dedicated for the students in that class. My classmates and I have all used Facebook for our buying/selling/borrowing of textbooks. This is a place you’ll generally get the best deal out of the rest of the ideas that will be listed below. Another thing you can do is ask to trade with a classmate! You both may have a textbook the other needs, so trading is an easy and free way of obtaining your textbook needs!


There were PLENTY of times I would buy a textbook thinking I would definitely need it for that specific course, when in actuality, I didn’t need it at all. Never be afraid to ask previous students of the class whether or not you need the textbook. Like the previous idea, remember to head to that Facebook group and drop a question. Your classmates will all thank you for helping them save on a textbook they don’t need!


Sometimes you might have to buy a new textbook because the class requires software that comes with the textbook. Although this usually doesn’t happen, we’ve all been there at least once in our college career. If your class does, then there’s no getting out of it. However, if your class doesn’t require a new textbook, always buy used! Used textbooks typically are half or less of the original cost of a textbook. Your best bet for this is to check online (Amazon, Half Price Books, etc) for where you can get your specific textbook. The web is great for finding used textbooks! Another place to check is your campus bookstore. My campus sold both used and new textbooks, which helped it’s students save money!


There are definitely other ways than purchasing textbooks. With the internet, you can find pdfs, buy, rent, trade textbooks! Renting is always a really good and easy way of getting textbooks, I did it often when they did not cost too much and I knew I wouldn’t be needing the textbook again. Each company provides you with a return date and return label once you submit for textbook rental. The only cost is the cost to rent!

There are plenty of websites that offer textbook rentals, but here are a couple I’ve used before:


Chegg is a one stop shop for textbooks! They have such a large inventory that you’ll pretty much be guaranteed every book you need for your classes. They have a study subscription, which you can subscribe to for about $15 a month. This allows you to get step- by- step solution guides for certain textbooks – which is amazing for certain math and chemistry classes.


Amazon’s perk is their free two-day shipping- which is super helpful when you’re running behind on getting your textbooks and assignments are quickly coming up. By signing up with your student ID, students get 6 months free of Prime Student!


These are only a few ideas that I have come across in my college experience. If you have any ideas, drop them in the comment section below and help your fellow college students!

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