It’s that time of the year again: the beginning a new semester. A new schedule, new classes, and ugh… new textbooks.
Every college student absolutely dreads buying new textbooks. Why is a stack of paper so damn expensive!?! If you aren’t careful, you could spend hundreds of dollars each semester on your textbooks. Believe it or not, cheap college textbooks are out there if you know where to look. This semester, I was able to save $400 on my textbooks! Don’t believe me? Here’s the breakdown:
Statistics: Retails for $141, paid $44.18
Psychopathology: Retails for $151, rented for $56.49
Math: Retails for $211, rented for $25.99
Statistics Lab Book: Retail $49.95, paid $41
TOTAL 552.95 PAID 157.66
Don’t be the person who spends over $500 on their textbooks this semester. I want to help you get the best deals possible on cheap college textbooks. By using the following tips, tricks, and resources, you can save big this semester. Let’s get started!
Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links.
Wait until the first day of class
A lot of people like to come to class prepared and order the textbook ahead of time. Unless your professor emails you before your first class and tells you that the textbook is absolutely necessary, wait to buy the book. Why? Because you may not even need your textbook. It is way too common for college students to lay out hundreds of dollars for a textbook, only for it to gather dust on their desk all semester. I always have at least one or two classes each semester that never use the required textbook.
While your professor is going over the syllabus on the first day of class, he or she will (at some point) discuss the textbook. Pay attention so that you can gauge whether or not it’s necessary to purchase the textbook. A lot of times, professors are understanding about expensive textbooks and will tell you just how important it is to the course. Here are some key phrases to look out for:
- “The exams are based off the textbook.”
- “You are responsible for all of the information in the assigned chapters.”
- “You will have homework (reading, questions, etc.) from the textbook.”
- “The textbook is crucial for your success in this class.”
If your professor says anything along these lines, it’s probably best to get the textbook. It’s also beneficial to have the textbook if you know the class will be difficult for you. Just use your best judgment.
If you aren’t sure, you could wait a week or two into the class and judge from there. However, if you do wait that long to buy your textbooks, make sure there’s a copy available in the library or you can borrow it from a friend if you end up needing it last minute.
Avoid the school bookstore
If you’re looking for cheap college textbooks, you won’t find them here. Sure, most schools offer used books for a discounted price, but this still is not your best option. If you rely on the school store, you’ll likely spend upwards of $500.
Instead of buying your class materials at the school store, check out the alternative methods of obtaining your textbooks.
Rent, don’t buy
Renting is the best way to find cheap college textbooks, and is my preferred method. There’s a ton of textbook rental sites out there, but Chegg is my favorite.
Here’s how it works: search for the textbook you need (I’ve included a handy little search engine down below!), add it to your cart, and check out. You’ll receive the textbook in the mail and you get to keep it all semester.
Some people are hesitant to rent their textbooks because they think that returning them is too much of a hassle. Guys. Returning your textbooks is SO easy. All you have to do is print out the free shipping label from your Chegg account and drop it off at the nearest UPS store (or other shipping location). Of course you have to make sure that you return the book on time so that you avoid a late fee. But returning your books is so easy that it really shouldn’t be an issue.
I’ve never had an issue with any of my rental books from Chegg. They’ve all arrived on time and in great condition, and I’ve never had any problems returning them either. You can save up to 90% on rental books from Chegg, so it’s definitely one of the best deals out there!
One downside about renting is that you aren’t supposed to mark up the textbooks (highlighting, underlining, etc.) at all. But that’s just an excuse to stock up on sticky notes 😉
Renting is the absolute best way to find cheap college textbooks. Even if you’re hesitant about it, give it a try – you might just fall in love.
This semester, I found two textbooks that were cheaper to purchase on Amazon than to rent from Chegg. You really never know what you’re gonna find, so make sure you check all of your resources before committing to one price.
If you’ve checked everywhere and still can’t find a reasonable price, try these alternative (free!) methods of accessing your textbooks.
Search for a PDF version
If you’re lucky, you can find a .pdf file of your textbook with a quick Google search. Search “[textbook name] pdf” and see what comes up. Bookboon is a great place to check as well.
This option may not be ideal for people who work better with a physical book. I definitely prefer real books over eBooks, but a free pdf version of your textbook is usually worth it.
I’ve only been able to find the first few chapters of some of my textbooks, but I know people who have found and downloaded their entire book online for free. It’s worth a shot!
Check the library
Your university library has a large collection of textbooks available for checkout. Search the online database and see if yours is available.
Many schools only allow you to use the textbook within the library. In other words, you can’t bring it back to your room with you. But that means that you can do your work in a quiet, productive atmosphere with a free textbook. It’s a win-win, if you ask me.
So there you have it! Did you find this post helpful? Have you ever used any of these cheap college textbook resources? What’s the best deal you’ve ever gotten on your textbooks? Leave a comment down below!