The Ultimate Guide to Buying Cheap College Textbooks in 2020

The first few days at college are always relaxing and fun until one day you look through all of your courses’ details and realize how many textbooks you need to buy for passing a respected course. And, you realize that it is not an easy task to buy cheap college textbooks.

One of the most stressful moments for college students is to buy tons of books for multiple courses where each book costs around $200. Being a college student, at first, I didn’t have any idea about the best ways to get cheap college textbooks, and I ended up dropping hundreds of dollars at the bookstore of our college. However, after doing much research in the field and spending some time in college, I figured out the best ways to buy college textbooks. 

Today, I’ll share some tips and facts with all of you guys for buying cheap college textbooks. For your ease, let’s distribute the blog into the following sections:

  • List of things to consider before buying college textbooks
  • Tips to get the cheaper college textbooks

List of things to consider before buying college textbooks

Do Not buy the books before the starting of classes

You might have read about this factor in many blogs and articles, and everyone is constantly insisting on the facts that don’t buy the books before starting your session. Have you ever wonder why? The reason is, although professors are teaching the course for years, they still need to confirm the syllabus with every new session.

Even a minor change in the syllabus can make your book worth $200 useless. To avoid such things, let the session get started, and after you get the syllabus for your course, go for the books you need to complete the course.

Visit different shops/online websites

Sometimes, to avoid the extra fatigue, we only visit the college bookstore for buying the books and don’t strive to save some extra dollars by visiting the other bookshops. It is wrong. The best way is to visit some nearby stores and bookshops to get an idea about the cost of the book that you need to buy.

It may save you some money, and at the same time, you will get an idea about some nearby bookstores. It is necessary because the core class major books usually get sold fast at the college bookstores, and you need to visit somewhere else to get the right book. 

Consider going for e-books

With the advancement in technology, one of the best ways to shop for books is to choose e-books. Being a college student, I understand that college life is a bit exhausting, and usually, students prefer textbooks over the e-books due to many reasons. For instance, they want high-quality page writing, or they want to highlight the important points during a lecture.

The good news is, there are many options available that allow you to get the high quality-written e-books, and also allow you to highlight any part of the book using the “highlighter” tool. 

Find out the books that you ACTUALLY need!

My college experience has taught me that being newbie’s, we often go for all the books that are mentioned in our syllabus without realizing that we might not need many of them. Therefore, the best way is to get help from your seniors as they have adequate knowledge about the worthy books.

In addition to this, the books that we don’t use usually make us feel very bad at the end of the session, but they will be useless until that time. Therefore, the best way is to purchase only those books that you actually need during the session. 

Tips to get the cheaper college textbooks

Rent your books

There are plenty of online platforms that are allowing students to rent college textbooks. The prices of rented textbooks are far more reasonable than the prices of original textbooks. You can get a rented textbook for around $20 to $50, depending upon the book. Many students don’t get rented books because they think that it will be a tough job to return the books at the end of the course. Well, it’s as simple as it could be. 

You just have to ship the books back in the same box in which you have received them. The most renowned online marketplaces for rented books are Amazon kindle and Chegg. In addition to this, you can also rent a book from any local bookstore if they are providing this facility.

Buy used books

Many local stores sell use books. We usually call those bookshops as old bookstores or old bookshops. Usually, students prefer used books over the rented ones because you can’t write anything on the rented textbooks, but used books are all yours, and you can write anything on them and can highlight the important aspects of a chapter without getting worried about the owner of the book. Most of the time, the campus bookshop is providing used books to the students, and you can get your required books from there without searching for additional options for the used books. 

Get the books from a friend

One of the best ways to save your money from textbooks in college is to get the books from one of your friends. You might be thinking about how your friend can have the books which you both need to study in the next few months. Well, I am not talking about the friend who is with you in the same batch, but the one who is your senior in the college. Usually, students ask the seniors about the books and get their used books for the session. 

Other times, students from the same batch share one book on alternative days. You might get surprised to know that, but I’ll tell you how they do that. Friends studying in the same batch but have different class sections can share one book because they don’t have the class on the same day. Also, they don’t have tests or exams on the same day, so one book can easily serve the two persons. 

Check the campus library

Being a newbie in the college, you might be unaware of the fact that there are many cheap college textbooks available at the campus library. All you have to do is to visit the library quite often and search for your required books. However, for this purpose, you must have the library card, which you will have to apply for after getting the admission. 

The library card allows you to borrow books from the library for a specific amount of time. You have to return the books to the library after the duration is over, and in case of delay, you will get charged for it as a college fine. In addition to this, college library books are also like rented books, and you can’t write anything on those books because they are not your property. 

Find the books in your network

Another best way to get college books without spending money is to find your relevant books on the network. It includes your social media network too. There are many groups on Facebook that allow students to communicate and exchange books. You can post about your required book in that group, and anyone with the book can communicate with you, and there is a higher chance that you get the book free for the entire session. Other changes include some payment that you need to pay to the book owner for buying his book. It’s a great way to get cheap college textbooks without much exertion. 

Photocopy the important aspects

Another interesting strategy is to try the photocopying tactics that many students use in college. These tactics involve photocopying of the relevant chapters and factors in the college textbook, and skip buying the books. Usually, students with some financial issues or other such factors are unable to buy the books, and they borrow the books from their class fellows at the end of every week and visit the photocopier to get a photocopy of the entire chapters that all of you have studied in the whole previous week. It is a great way to get only the important factors out of a book and leave every other thing behind. 

Sell the books once you are done

The ultimate way to save some money from the already bought books is to sell them at the end of the sessions and get a new one from the income that you have generated. Isn’t this an attractive way to consider? You can rotate the money that you have once spent on the books in the whole years that you will have to spend at the college by selling the old books at the end of every session.


Buying textbooks for college can be pricey. 4 years of college, 8 semesters, an average of $400 of book per semester: 8×400= $3200. Can you reduce that number considerably? YES, all those methods above are non-exhaustive and can be improved depending upon your own university. 

It is interesting to note that some scholarships awarded to students include the price of your textbooks, or a certain part of your financial aid is reserved for your books. I hope that you are now able to find cheap college textbooks, and use that money elsewhere. If. you love sparing money, check out my College Students Discounts List.

 Also, please let me know in the comments section under this post if you have any extra information that you want to share with the community! Or just tell us about your experience, we are eager to know!


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