How To Buy Cheap Textbooks

Textbooks can cost hundreds, sometimes even thousands of dollars. Especially if you buy them new, you better be willing to spend a pretty penny.

The good news is there are many tips and tricks I can share with you to make ensure you are not spending more than necessary on textbooks. Between online shopping, rentals, used books and discount stores on campus, textbooks can become very affordable.

First of all, you should avoid buying your books new at all costs if you are expecting to get any kind of discount.

New textbooks cost hundreds of dollars, and if you are only going to use them a couple times or for just one semester, it’s certainly not worth the shiny new cover.

Most people only use their textbooks for one semester’s worth of assignments and only a small percentage of students actually keep their books for future use. So in this case, buying new is unnecessary.

Used Textbooks

A great way to save money on textbooks is simply by buying them used. Used books often cost half the price of new books depending on how much wear and tear they have had. If you can deal with having a beat up old book, prices will continue to decrease.

Used textbooks are sold at campus bookstores and online, or you can buy them from friends who have had the class.

Renting Textbooks

Another easy way to get discounts on your textbooks is by renting them if that is an option. Not all bookstores offer rentals, but in my experience I’ve found this is one of the cheapest ways to purchase textbooks.

Rental books are sold new or used and come with a couple strings attached. The deal with rental textbooks is that there is a date you must return them by to get refunded or you will be charged a late fee, or sometimes even the full price of the book so stores can replace lost books.

However, if you are organized and remember to save all of your rental contract paperwork and return your books on time, rentals are an easy and affordable way to buy textbooks.

Buying Textbooks Online

Possibly one of the most common methods of purchasing textbooks is by shopping online.

Websites like Amazon, Chegg, EBay, Craig’s List and other online retail outlets are stocked with new and used textbooks for students.

Students cite buying online as one of the cheapest ways to find textbooks, but there are added costs. Sometimes there are delivery charges, wait times for deliveries and in the most unfortunate cases, people can receive the wrong deliveries.

Still, if you find a reliable outlet to purchase books from online, this method has proven very affordable. If you find a specific EBay or Amazon user to frequently buy from, a good relationship with them could leave room for price negotiations as well as other perks.

Minor Drawbacks

One final note about buying used books: they come with wear and tear, after all, they are used. But this can be a blessing and a curse I have found.

Used books often have notes written in the margins and highlighted or underlined text. While some may find this annoying, more often than not it’s helpful. What college kid doesn’t like someone doing their reading work for them?

As you can see, there are many affordable and efficient ways to buy or rent textbooks. Whether you buy them new or used, you should always seek out the best prices, because it adds up fast.

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Madeline Fetchiet

Madeline Fetchiet

Madeline Fetchiet is a sophomore at Michigan State University, studying journalism and philosophy of law. Aside from reporting, Madeline enjoys tae kwon do, reading, writing, researching and traveling, and can be considered a music enthusiast. Madeline currently works as an intern for, and is a banquet server at Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor, MI. Perfecting the storytelling side of reporting is something she looks forward to in her future career as a journalist.
Madeline Fetchiet

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