How to Save Money on College Books -10 Tips

College textbooks have become so expensive that it is really important to find the best ways to decrease this expense.

The best 10 tips for saving include the following:

Review Your Syllabus for Necessary Books List

Check School Library for Extra Copies

Rent Books If Possible

Buy Used Books

Ask Friends and Other Students

Get the Slightly Older Edition of Book

Review Your School for Any Grants or Scholarships

Share Book with Another Student in Class

Buy an eBook When You Must Buy Newest Version

Getting Money Back for Your Books

Using these tips will significantly help you save on the cost of books while still allowing you to have enough information to succeed in that class.

Through this post I will provide useful information and tips for how to save money on college books.

Before jumping into the details for the best tips for saving on books I should first mention that it is important to make sure that you absolutely need that book.

Many classes I took had books that you needed and other books that were secondary books that would be beneficial but not necessary.

I would check with your professor before buying the book because there were times that I got the book and found out that it wasn’t really needed for the class.

If you ask around and find out that you do indeed need this particular book, then it is time to focus on the best ways to save money for this purchase.

Review Your Syllabus for Necessary Books List

Reviewing the syllabus to see what books are necessary is a crucial step and will likely save you some money. In the syllabus for a particular class there is usually a list of required books and supplementary books.

It is important to ask the professor how needed this book will be because if you don’t need it every day of class, then you could find a way to share it or not buy it.

I always checked the syllabus and checked in with the professor for each class to see if it was possible to get the book at a reasonable price and what the options are for finding the needed books.

Check School Library for Extra Copies

Checking the school library is always a good idea to see how many copies are available there if any. Using the school library copy means that you can use it at the library and check it out for short amounts of time.

Having access to the book for your class at the library can be a great way to save and it can help you study more for the class because it will force you to go to the library which is usually a better environment for studying.

Check to see if you can check out the book for a few hours or days to know how long you can use this resource outside of the library.

Rent Books If Possible

Renting books is a great way to reduce your book expense and allows you to pay a fraction of the buying cost. The school bookstore sometimes has the option now to rent a book and it is becoming more and more popular for the school bookstore to have the renting option.

Checking the bookstore to see if it is possible to rent the book was always part of my routine for seeing where I could save on books while still having enough access to the book.

Renting a book means that you can usually rent it from the school bookstore for a single semester for when you are taking the class.

You will then need to return the book at the end of the semester or else you will have to pay the full price of buying the book.

Stack of Books
Buy Used Books to Save More

Buy Used Books

If it is not possible to rent the book, then try to buy a used copy. Usually in the bookstore there is an option to buy used or new and going for the used copy is the way to go because this copy has all the essential information.

Buying a used book from the bookstore will mean that you pay a reduced price for it and you can then sell this book back to the bookstore for a small price or sell it at a local bookstore that buys used books for a slightly higher price.

The used books have the same information in them as the new book with a few dents or rips here and there but it is well worth paying a much reduced price.

Used books sell out fast at the bookstore so checking out the bookstore as soon as you can is a good idea.

Ask Friends and Other Students

Asking friends or other students about obtaining a book for a specific class never hurts and you could be surprised that someone has a copy of the book that you need.

Especially if your class is part of your major and not a general elective class, always ask classmates in your class, friends in your major or people who have potentially taken the class in the past.

You can even search your local area by checking on Facebook for books there at a reasonable price. This is less likely to get you a specific book for your class but you can find all kinds of great deals for books and other stuff.

Get the Slightly Older Edition of Book

Getting the slightly older edition of the book could help you get a reduced price and still have all the necessary information for your class.

A brand new edition generally does not have that much new sections compared to the previous edition and has mostly the same information. Sometimes a professor will still want you to get the newest edition for your class because they have designed their syllabus off of the newest version.

But it never hurts to see if you can get an older edition of the book for class by checking all the main resources listed so far, including the library, bookstore or friends.

For example the 8th edition versus the 7th edition of a textbook could have almost all the same information with a few updated sections.

It might be possible to get a book for class that is a couple editions older than what is needed for that class but this is less likely.

Review Your School for Any Grants or Scholarships

Review your school for any grants or scholarships that could give you a financial boost for school supplies. It never hurts to look at what scholarships are offered at your school and apply to the ones that you are eligible to apply to.

I was able to get a scholarship here and there from school and then also from my community where I was coming from. Searching your local community could also give you critical information about any scholarships or grants that are available to students.

Checking to see how much financial aid you can get is always great for saving money and some financial aid could be used for textbooks and school supplies.

You can usually get helpful information online through your school’s website but you can also physically go to your school’s financial aid office and get more information.

Share Book with Another Student in Class

Sharing the book for class with another student could help you both have access to the information and split the cost.

If there is no way to avoid paying for the new version of the book and it turns out to be expensive, then sharing the book with another student in class just makes sense.

Coming up with a system to see who gets it each day will take a little trial and error but will likely save you a good amount. I have done this with other students in a class and it made it cheaper and I also didn’t have to carry the book around all the time.

Buy an eBook When You Must Buy Newest Version

Buying an eBook can give you the newest version for significantly less money than purchasing the print copy.  I used to only use print copies because it was easier for me to study and read but I have gotten much more used to the electronic versions of most books.

It can sometimes be tempting to get distracted when you are reading on a device. Try to always put yourself in a good environment for studying or reading your book and this should be able to help you get more work completed.

If you are someone who is more likely to not get as much work done when you are on your computer or phone, then you might want to buy the hardcopy version.

If you can find a way to not get as distracted on your devices, then you could save a good amount of money by buying the eBook version.

Stack of Cash
Getting Money Back for Your Books

Getting Money Back for Your Books

Getting money for your books at the end of the semester is a great way to get some of your money back.

This can include going to any of the following resources:

  • School Bookstore
  • Local Bookstore that buys school books
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Selling to Friend at a Reduced rate

At the end of the semester you can usually go to one of the above resources to get a little cash back for your books. The school bookstore generally will give you some money but it is not that much.

Bookshelf with Books in Bookstore
Try Local Bookstores to Sell Your Books

The school bookstore will buy back some but not all books but they are more consistent at giving some money back compared to the other resources here.

Whereas a local bookstore is less likely to give you cash for a book but if they do give cash for a book, then they are likely to give you more cash than the school bookstore.

I have been able to search for bookstores in my area that buy back books and then gone to them in person with my stack of books.

They tend to be particular about which books they will buy from you but it never hurts to check out these bookstores.

Going on the Facebook marketplace for your area and listing your books and any other school supplies you don’t need anymore could land you with some money.

This is less likely to get a lot of interest but at certain times of the year it could be great, such as at the beginning of the next semester when people are actively searching for specific books for a class.

Finally, you can sell your books to a friend at a reduced price so that you both get something for the deal. Even $10 for a used book that would normally cost $30 anywhere else could be a great way for you both to profit from this.

It is important to point out that many books that you buy for a class could become a resource for you to use for years to come because they have valuable information for other classes in your major.

A helpful book that was worth keeping for me was my Human Anatomy textbook because I ended up using it for other classes a few semesters later.

Take a look at how valuable your book is and see if you want to hold onto it. Many textbooks have tremendous information in them and could be worth holding onto if you are interested in those subjects.

You are likely to only get a small amount of money back if you sell these books so review your collection of books to see which ones are worth keeping.

If you liked this post and want to save money on another college expense, read How to Save Money on Rent.

In Closing

There are many options for saving money on books and if you use the tips listed in this post, then you will likely save a lot.

The price of textbooks and college books has become a real obstacle for students because of how high the price has become. It is more important now than probably ever to find practical ways to save on books.

Review your books and think about whether you will realistically use them later in your college career or later in your job career.

Reviewing these books could help you keep the ones that are going to be valuable resources down the road.

If you realistically aren’t going to use them again, then sell them through one of the listed resources here and get some cash back.

I hope that you enjoyed this post and found helpful information and tips for how to save money on college books.

If you have questions, please leave them below and I will answer them as best as I can.

2 Replies to “How to Save Money on College Books -10 Tips”

  1. Hi Jesse,
    Really interesting post, I took a lot out of that, with some really useful tips which i’ll be sure to implement in the future, I have a son who will be in Grade 1 this year, so as the years go by it will be a great way to save money and also save other people money, I found when I was in high school my parents brought brand new books for me and my brothers and they were barely used. You’ve given me so many options that I was unaware of.
    Thanks for the excellent information.

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