Broke College Student? 5 Ways To Get Cheap Textbooks

Textbooks are necessary for every class but can get pricey very quickly.  Often times, some students don’t even know where to look to get textbooks.  Here are a couple of ways you can get textbooks and maybe even save some money on them!

Online @ Chegg, Amazon,, etc.

Looking online is one of the easiest ways to purchase your textbooks.  Because most classes will send out their syllabi in advance, you can easily figure out which classes need which books.  Looking online allows you to compare prices from the comfort of your own home and not have to physically get out of the house to get those books.

Also, many sites you buy books from also offer a chance for you to sell back the books, sometimes at a reduced price, or sell them to other students, in which case, you could turn a profit or at least get your money back.  Buying textbooks online is a popular option with many students because it is quite convenient and you don’t have to deal with the hassle of long lines at the counter and lugging hoards of books home.


Some campus bookstores or off campus bookstores offer an option called “renting.”  For a cheaper price than actually buying the book, you can rent the book for the semester and return it to the store at the end of the semester.  This way, you don’t need to resell them or accumulate unnecessary books in your home.

They are pretty strict about deadlines, however, so make sure you keep track of your books so you aren’t charged extra if you don’t return them on time.  Renting is cheaper than actually buying books but you don’t get to keep the books at the end.

Campus Bookstores

The campus bookstore is almost always guaranteed to have all the books you need.  It’s convenient because everything is in one place and you won’t have to shop around to try and find the right publisher or edition.  Campus bookstores are a great way to do a one-stop shop of all your textbooks but be forewarned, you pay for convenience.  Oftentimes, campus bookstores know you’re either in a rush or that you’re going to end up buying your books there as a last resort so they’re not afraid to charge you a little more than online sellers or other bookstores.

Off-Campus Bookstores

Off-campus bookstores are another very viable option.  Because these bookstores know they’re competing with the on campus bookstores, they tend to lower their prices just a little and offer more used book options.  Off-campus bookstores tend to buy back a lot of your books if you bought the books from them in the first place.

They’ll usually give you a pretty good deal depending if your book is going to be used in the following semesters.  I’ve sold a number of my textbooks back to off-campus bookstores and gained a great deal of my money back.

From a Friend

Another option for getting textbooks is through friends.  Many of your floor mates, roommates, and classmates have probably taken many of the classes you might be planning on taking.  As a result, they may have the textbooks lying around, not in use.  Ask around and you might be surprised to find how many used textbooks are up for grabs.

This also saves you the trouble of waiting and paying for shipping and you can usually trust that your friends have taken relatively good care of their textbooks.  Additionally, with websites like Facebook, it’s easy to type out a quick status asking for a particular class’s textbooks to see if any of your friends have them.

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Clara Ma

Clara Ma

Clara is a third year student attending the University of California, Berkeley currently pursuing a double major in Political Science and Media Studies. Her school activities include being a captain on the Cal Dance Team, being a Campus Ambassador, as well as being part of THRIVE Dance Company. She enjoys living vicariously through others on the Internet, keeping up with pop culture on Tumblr, and watching a copious number of television shows (namely Sherlock and How I Met Your Mother).