How to Save Money Buying Textbooks


I’m in my first year of graduate school and over the years I’ve acquired valuable knowledge on how to save money buying textbooks. I believe my sophomore or junior year of college onwards my parents had me purchase my books because I had a job. Buying textbooks from the bookstore can easily run you upwards of $200 per semester, and you’d be lucky to only spend $200. In fact on average students spend $900 per year on books. Here are my tips to paying as little as possible! This semester I had three classes and payed $45 total with expedited shipping. If I purchased everything new I would have had to pay at least $250-300.

Buy an older version 

This book sells for a little over $2 but I wasn’t sure my professor would be okay with this edition because the second edition looked so different to me. It turns out she has the same older edition and is fine with me buying this version for class. The newer version sells for a whopping $71. I payed around $10 because I payed for expedited shipping but I still only needed to spend a fraction of the cost.

I used to feel like I needed the newer version because a book related to my career and I wanted to keep the newest version with me. I then realized that the new version today would be the older version in a few years and I could always buy the older copy when the price drops

I still remember borrowing a Chemistry book from a friend while many others bought the textbook new. My professor had the older version too so those who bought used were actually aligned with the syllabus while other who payed money for the textbook new were not.

Buy and Sell, avoid Renting 

If you MUST buy the new version, some professors are annoying about this because the newer version has substantial changes, then buy and do not rent. I once rented a book and forgot to return it and was charged so much money. The only time renting worked for me was when I randomly stumbled upon a promo code to rent from a company for free. Also, when you buy you can sell your books back, sometimes for the exact amount you spent. This year I sold three books through Amazon I should receive back around $35-40 if everything works out. (occasionally things can be lost, I haven’t experienced this yet) By selling my books, I have money to buy books for this school year.

When you rent, your money is gone and you only have the book for a fixed amount of time. I remember being forced to buy a small set of books for $75 and feeling so annoyed about it until I sold the set on Amazon for around $60. Amazon will take a  percentage of your purchase but chances are you can take a look on your bookshelf and see if you have any books that can sell for a decent amount. Normally I will only resell a book if it can sell for at least $10 because otherwise I don’t make enough money back to cover shipping or even my time. When shipping you pay based off of the distance you are shipping to as well as the weight and size of a package.

Look for PDFs or Borrow from friends

This summer I was supposed to buy a book for class that would cost me $40. I looked around the internet for a little bit and found a free trial to a website that would let me download the textbook for FREE. I shared this with other people in my class (13 total) and we all saved $40 from this free trial.

Borrowing from friends is also great because if you’re friends are nice- you pay nothing and just return the book later. We ended up barely use the textbook in class so it would have been annoying to pay money for a book we didn’t use.

Your Library May Have your Textbook! 

If you’re willing to sit in your library and scan pages or just stay there and read, you can save a ton of money by using your library’s reserve system. I normally don’t do this because I like being home when I do homework but my brother lived on campus and found this as a great alternative to buying his textbooks.


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