The Best Ways to Save Money on College Textbooks

Image courtesy of  Stuart Miles/

Are you a college student who is required to purchase textbooks for classes? If so, then you know how painful it is after purchasing all your books for a semester. College textbooks can be extremely expensive. Some of my classmates have spent $200 on just one textbook! I had to purchase textbooks for 7 semesters now and feel that I have mastered the tricks to “beating the system” when it comes to buying textbooks.

Avoid the School Bookstore

After buying textbooks from my university bookstore my first semester of college, I have never done it again (unless I had to). Textbooks at the university bookstore are usually the highest prices you will see. There are some exceptions when students have no choice but to buy from the university bookstore. Those exceptions are:

  1. When the book is created by the university or is a special edition made for the university these books cannot be purchased anywhere else.
  2. Workbooks that accompany textbooks are usually the same price in the university bookstore as they are elsewhere.

Do Your Research and Price Compare

When buying textbooks do not go with the first option you see, compare prices. The best price comparison website I have found for textbooks is This website allows you to search textbooks and it will compare prices among tons of different websites. Dealoz constantly updates their lists so you won’t miss out on the best deals! One of the things you want to make sure you look at when buying textbooks online is the edition. Some books online are “international editions” which are significantly lower in price. These editions are almost identical to the U.S. editions, they just have different cover images. These editions are a great cost effective alternative.

Give the Older Versions a Chance

Textbooks are constantly updating to newer versions. These newer editions are usually only marginally different and just a way for textbook publishers to keep making money on textbooks that they have already made. For example, the only differences may be an added chapter or different examples. The core content of the book (definitions, explanations) is usually the same. I have purchased older editions of textbooks a few times and have not had any problems. If a homework problem was different, I simply asked a classmate for the question and was able to complete the assignment. If you are wondering whether an older edition is right for you ask your instructor. Many times the instructor has used the past edition and will know if there are any significant differences.

Borrow a Friend’s Book or Share With a Friend

Do you have a friend who took the same course you’re taking now, last semester? They may still have the book! For instance, I have loaned a few of my books to my boyfriend who has taken classes after me. If the person you know is looking to sell and get money for the book, they will probably be happy to get it off their backs by selling it to you for cheap.

Don’t Forget to Sell Your Books

If you are not going to use that geology textbook ever again, sell it! Again, Dealoz can be used to search for the best buyback price. Avoid the university bookstore here as well! I once purchased a French textbook for just under $200 and then went to the bookstore at the end of the semester and they offered me $10 to buy it back! I went onto Dealoz and sold the book for $80. Many companies online will actually pay the shipping costs for you to send it to them.

What are some ways that you have saved money on textbooks?