Of all the costs associated with college, buying textbooks is something that can take many students by surprise.
If this is a challenge for you, there are several strategies you can use to help you save on this expense, possibly significantly. For example, have you ever considered renting textbooks? share it? Or ask your professor if they have backup copies of the required reading that they will loan you?
A little ingenuity when it comes to how you get your textbooks can be a game-changer for saving money. Here are some tips to try.
1. Make sure you only buy the essentials
Before buying textbooks for the semester, make sure that all of the books on your list are actually in demand. Many professors will add supplementary reading to your book list, but these are the books you absolutely don’t need for class. If you’re strapped for cash, you don’t necessarily need to buy those books.
2. Make use of the library
You will be able to find many books on the wanted reading lists in your school library – for free. They may have a limited supply, so it’s best to reserve your books in advance if you can. You can also look for books at a library outside your school where they may not be required.
3. Consider sharing textbooks with your classmates
Sharing a copy of a textbook with classmates can be a good option to reduce costs. You and your classmates can study together or swap books back and forth during the week if you have different study schedules.
In addition, there may be some students who are willing to sell you their old books for a fraction of the cost of a new edition or lend you a copy they keep.
4. Ask your professor if they have copies of textbooks that you can borrow
Although professors are not likely to sympathize with you about your workload, they are likely to sympathize with you when it comes to spending money on textbooks. If you bring it to your professor, he may be willing to give you copies of certain textbooks on loan.
5. Consider renting textbooks
It is often cheaper to rent a textbook than to buy it. Your school’s library may not give you the option to rent, but plenty of websites do, so consider researching this as an option.
6. Compare textbook prices online
We compare prices of most things, so why should textbooks be any different? Don’t just accept that the school bookstore has the best prices, do a proper online search for the textbooks you need in order to find the deals properly.
7. Consider waiting before buying your books
When possible, wait until your school’s course add/remove deadline before purchasing some or all of your books. You don’t want to get stuck with books in a chapter that you eventually delete.
8. There is nothing wrong with used books
Used textbooks are generally cheaper than new textbooks (an exception to this may be if the textbook is out of print). The textbook materials will be the same in a used book as they are in a new one, which makes this a great way to save money. Many bookstores on campus offer used textbooks, which are also available online.
9. Newer doesn’t always mean newer
For some courses, you will not need the latest version of the textbook to meet your needs. Check with your professors to see if anything important has changed in the last edition of a textbook or if the old print is enough. Sometimes an old print is cheaper.
10. Find out if you can download a book for free (legally, of course)
If your course materials are in the public domain, you may be able to download PDF versions and audiobooks online for free. This is particularly useful for English majors but can also extend to other humanities majors.
There is no doubt that paying textbook sticker prices can be a major expense. Use a few techniques to save money on your textbooks, and you’ll be able to make a dent in expenses and, hopefully, open some wiggle room in your monthly budget.