How to Afford the High Price of College Textbook

Depending on the course, textbooks for college classes can easily surpass a hundred dollars per book. Added to tuition, room and board, and college can go from expensive to nearly impossible to survive financially without loans. However, there are ways to bring the price of textbooks down.

Buy old editions

 Buying old editions of books is a sure way to get the same content for cheaper. This method will often shave forty or fifty dollars off a book, and most of the time you don’t need the new edition. However, take caution with this method. If you’re taking classes in a certain field where there are new breakthroughs and developments all the time, such as telecommunications or biology, it’s best to play it safe and buy the most updated edition.

Buy online

Buying used books online is a way that many college students save money. If you have an .edu email address, offers a year free of Amazon Prime, which means you can get several books at cheaper prices with free two-day shipping. This is a great method if you’ve waited until the last minute to purchase your textbook. Also, you can use to compare book prices online to find the cheapest one by inserting the book’s title, author or ISBN (international standard book number). The website will then search the web to find the cheapest price on both new and used books. Also, some schools have a website run by students where you can post and sell used textbooks between students at the university. When buying online, use proper caution. Don’t release your credit card information without making sure the server is secure, and if you absolutely must use a public computer, make sure to delete the history and cookies before leaving.

Split the cost with a friend

An easy way to cut the cost of a textbook in half that many students don’t think of is to share a textbook. If you have a friend taking the same class in a different section, buy it together and each pay half. At the end of the semester, you can sell it and split the earnings. This also works if you will both be taking the class but in different semesters. However, this is another practice that must be met with caution. Make sure your friend is responsible enough not to damage or lose the book and that you can come up with a schedule to use the book.

Digital editions

If you have any kind of e-reader, such as a kindle or even an iPad, some textbooks have digital editions that are only a fraction of the cost of a hardback. Even if you don’t have an e-reader, some digital books can be downloaded directly to a computer. Due to the fact these books don’t have to be printed or ship, the price tag will be far less than any you will find in the bookstore.


Renting textbook is a great option for books for classes you know you won’t need to keep. is a very popular renting site, but now many campus bookstores are also offering books to rent for the same price. Just make sure to check the date the book needs to be returned by, as well as the condition the book is in. If you’re the type that likes to make notes in the book for later reference, this option isn’t for you, but otherwise it’s a great way to cut the cost of a textbook in half.

Make sure you’re only buying books you need

Depending on how your college operates, your book list may come straight from the bookstore. Once you get a list, it’s a good idea to email your professors and make sure the books listed are the ones you’ll need. Sometimes professors change their syllabus without notifying the bookstore, and students end up buying useless books they can’t return. So play it safe and check with the professors before buying anything.

Sell your books back

If you’re in upper-level courses in your major field of study, you may need to keep your textbooks for further reference. However, if the book was for a general education requirement or an elective, selling your book at the end of the term will decrease the amount you spent as well as give you a bit of cash to buy books for the next semester. Don’t sell your books back to the campus bookstore, as most will only give you a few dollars for a book that cost a hundred dollars. Instead, sell your books online or to another student on campus. Depending on the condition of your book, you may be able to get as much as half of what you spent back.

College is expensive enough as it is without buying overpriced books from the bookstore. These tips may take a bit of time and searching, but they will save money in the long run.