How to save money on textbooks

In my first year of college, textbooks cost me an astounding $800.  That’s an absolutely disgusting amount for something that I might use once a week.  And that was only one year of school!  I think I ended up needed only a handful of chapters (if that) out of each textbook.

Schools will encourage you to buy books through the college bookstore, but that is definitely not your only source of textbooks.  I didn’t get it right the first few years I was in school, but I’d like to think that I smartened up a little  😉

Photo Credit: LifeSupercharger via Flickr

Photo Credit: LifeSupercharger via Flickr

  1. Libraries: Take advantage of the library, both on campus and your local public libraries.  During my ethics class, I was required to purchase a $150 book of case studies.  Um, no thanks!  I found the book at the campus biomedical library and borrowed it for the whole semester.  Score!  I’ve also been able to find many of my English books at the local city library.
  2. eBook: Many resources are easily found online in eBook format.  For example, many classic texts are freely available online.  Just download them to your computer, tablet or eReader and you’ll have your textbooks on the go!  Even when you do have to pay, eBooks tend to be at least a bit cheaper than the physical copies.
  3. Friends and family: I have tried to help out my friends by giving them or lending them my old textbooks.  Chances are, you know someone in your social circle that has taken that class or a similar class.  Why not post a quick Facebook message and ask around?  You might score a few free books for the term.
  4. Online: Finally, for science and math textbooks, the cheapest option that I have found is to buy them on eBay from an international seller.  I’ve found international copies of textbooks for less than a quarter of the North American price.  The content is always the same – usually only the cover (and the price!!!) is different.  Most of the sellers I’ve used have come from India.  They are generally very pleasant to deal with and are quite reliable and fast for shipping.  Give it a try!

Where would you go for cheap or free textbooks?  Any other suggestions that I may have missed?

Posted in: Minimalism and Frugality

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