4 Sneaky Ways To Save Money On Textbooks

Of all the college myths and tales, one of the only true ones is about the ridiculous cost of books. My first semester, I ended up spending about $300 on books alone!

At first, I thought this was totally normal, but by my sophomore year I realized I was basically throwing my money away by buying my books at the school bookstore without exploring other options.

There are the more obvious alternatives like eBay, Amazon and other online stores, but in my years as a broke college student, I’ve found many creative ways to get books for cheap, or sometimes even free.

1. Public Library

This works particularly well for English classes where you’ll be asked to read classic literature. Who, in their right mind, would buy copy of Gulliver’s Travels for 18th century literature? The library has like 80 zillion copies! And they’re all FREE!

You might have a harder time finding text books, but many college courses don’t even use traditional texts. There’s a world of non-fiction books that professors use and can be found in the public library.

2. Photocopy

I got this idea from a professor who assigned dozens of readings from almost as many different books. He realized he would bankrupt the class if he required us to buy each book just for one or two passages, so he suggested we find the books in the library and photocopy the pages we needed.

Obviously, this is only a good option for two specific scenarios:

  • A. You need short stories or passages from more than 4 books.
  • B. The total cost of the photocopies is $20 less than that of the book(s).

Of course, these are relative scenarios, maybe saving less than $20 is important enough for you to go through all this trouble, but I feel like it’s a whole lot of work just to save a few bucks. Better to save the more convoluted scheme for when it really counts.

3. Old Editions

Every year, without fail, all my professors decided to require the latest version of whatever book they needed. The thing is that the majority of the time, books don’t change very much from one edition to the next. In my experience, the changes made were so minimal that the professor’s lesson plan didn’t even include them.

As long as you check with your professor first to find out if any of the changes are important, you can get away with buying a book that’s one edition older and much cheaper.

4. Google

Say it with me: The internet is our friend.

By this point, there are very few things you can’t find online; whether it’s a passage, poem or short story, chances are you can get it on Google. And if you save it on your computer, you may not even have to print it out, just bring your laptop to class!

I know these suggestions seem a like a bit much just to save a few dollars, but that’s just it, it’s NOT a few dollars! Books are incredibly expensive, and every bit saved counts.

Spending less on books means you have more money for other things you may want or need. Yes, some of these options take a little bit of work, but it’s worth it if it means you won’t be wasting hundreds of dollars every semester.

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Mercedes Espinoza

Mercedes Espinoza

Mercedes Espinoza is a senior at Florida Atlantic University pursuing a degree in Multimedia Journalism. Although reading is her first love, writing is a close second and she can usually be found with her nose in a book or hunched over a laptop typing away. Outside of school and work, she’s interested in all things fitness as well as continuing to grow an already massive nail polish collection.