How to Buy College Textbooks on a Budget

When I first began college, I didn’t care about the cost of textbooks. My first year was free and I had no concept of how expensive they were when my parents paid. Later, when I had to start paying for them myself, I realized how pricey they can be. So I created these ways to get them at for less than half their actual price.

1. Avoid the school bookstore. As a young student, new to college, I thought the only place you could get textbooks was from the store. This may be true, especially when teachers produce their own books. However, this is almost never, ever the case. Many online websites like eBay, Amazon and even BetterWorld Books carry heavily discounted textbooks that can save you lots. I have bought many textbooks that would have cost me around $100 on campus, for maybe $5-30 online, including shipping.

2. Order ahead. When shopping for textbooks, it’s really essential that you order them in advance. There may only be one copy of the book at the right price. So it’s important to not delay your purchase. You can end up having to revert to the bookstore if you run out of time making your purchase.

3. Consult the professor. Many times, a professor will tell you if you can purchase early editions, which are usually cheaper, alternative textbooks or even no book at all. Communicate with them and explain that you are on a budget. They should be able to direct you to an affordable alternative, if there is one.

4. Get an earlier edition. The college textbook business thrives on the monopoly it has. They can charge whatever they want because the people who are choosing the books are not the ones paying. This means that the prices aren’t really the value of the book. What happens, then is, you can find an 8th edition book for $250 whereas the 7th edition may only be $30. Be sure to ask your professors, if you can use an earlier edition, as many will approve due to the lack of change between editions. I was able to do this and went from a $70 textbook to a $5 one.

5. Textbook share. Often, your instructor will not use the majority of the textbook and will often reference the parts and pages of the text that will be covered throughout the year. Many classes that do not use non-education books can be found at the library. You can even borrow the textbook from a fellow classmate. You can borrow these books and scan the parts that will be used. This saves a lot of money. What I did for a literature class one semester was, borrowed the novel from the library and read the book throughout the semester break. By the time the class started, I no longer needed the novel.

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