Tips for Saving Money on College Textbooks

Updated on August 29, 2016

Ah, the campus bookstore…where dreams are made and wallets are emptied. Before you succumb to the extremely high prices of required textbooks, make sure you do your research early. Contact your professors as soon as possible to find out what textbooks they will require for their courses. If you do prefer the convenience of picking it up at the campus bookstore, they will often have used copies available for early shoppers. However, if used copies are not available, or you would like to find out how to save as much money as possible, consider the following tips.


Library Copies and Interlibrary Loan

This might seem obvious, but as soon as you know your required reading, try to be the first to check out any library copies. If there are none in your own academic or local library, keep Interlibrary Loan in mind and learn how to use it. Most colleges and universities have Interlibrary Loan accounts, which allow students borrow books from any participating library in the United States (or possibly elsewhere in the world). If there is a copy out there, the Interlibrary Loan staff will find it for you and send it directly to your library. Simply familiarize yourself with the online system of searching and ordering books, and then you will receive an e-mail when your books have arrived and are ready to pick up at your campus library. Make sure you allow time for the books to arrive as some may take a few weeks depending on the distance it needs to travel. Most common books, though, should not be far away and will only take a few days to get to you. Lastly, while it certainly saves money, be aware that all Interlibrary Loan books will have strict due dates, and they are harder to renew than your typical library books.


Library Desk Copies on Reserve

One important question to ask your professors as soon as you can is if they will keep copies on reserve in the library for class use. These are textbooks that your professor can set aside for use by his or her class only. They can be borrowed at the front desk and read in the library. Do keep in mind, however, that there will be a limited supply, so they might not be available when you go in to read them. If you do not mind keeping odd hours, such as early in the morning, late at night, or on the weekend, you might have a better chance of getting your hands on the library copies. You must remain in the library to read them and return the books before leaving each time. The best part, though, is that you won’t have to pay a dime (and it might also save you the strain of lugging around a bunch of books).


Buying Online

Always check to see if any of your required textbooks are available online. You may be able to find used copies, or even new copies much cheaper than at the campus bookstore. Barnes & Noble, eBay, and Amazon are a few classic used book hotspots. On, for instance, you may have the option to purchase the same book in a variety of used conditions depending on how much you want to pay and how much you care about the book’s condition--from the falling-apart and highlighted everywhere books to the pristine or gently used copies. Plan to look for a bunch at once as you might be able to qualify for free shipping that way.

Sharing the Textbooks and the Cost

Many students might be able to collaborate and share the cost of textbooks by buying one copy as a group. The downside, of course, is that you don’t have your own personal copy for reading whenever you like and marking however you want, but you can simply arrange a schedule for who gets possession of the book when. If you have roommates who share some of the same classes, you can easily keep the shared books in your dorm or apartment. It might not be a good idea to put your textbook trust in someone you just met, but this is certainly a cost-saving option for friends. Often, a bonus of book-sharing is that it encourages partner studying and sticking to a reading schedule.


Selling Your Textbooks

Of course, one way to save money is to get money back when you are finished with the book. You can always try to sell it online through a marketplace like eBay or Amazon, or, if you purchased it through the bookstore, many will also buy it back (for a shamefully low price, naturally). Since incoming students will also need the book, try advertising it for sale around campus or in your dorm. Let your professor know that you will have a used copy available, and he or she may spread the word to next-semester’s students. Before you sell your book companion-for-a-semester, however, make sure that you will not be missing it in the future as it might come in handy as a reference book in your own personal home library.

Questions & Answers


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)