7 Smart Ways to Save on College Textbooks

Last fall I sent my first born off to college.  I had heard horror stories about the cost of textbooks.  Admittedly I was a little nervous about that expense since it can vary so much depending on your schedule.  When it comes to textbooks, don’t be afraid to shop around.  I was surprised to hear from other parents that many of them walked into the on-campus bookstore and bought new books off the shelf for full price!  What? I understand in some cases that may be necessary, but there are a lot of ways to save a ton of cash if you shop around.  Below are 6 ways to save a lot of money!  Friends don’t let friends buy full price textbooks! :)textbooks

  1. Rent books.  This is a great way to go and almost always cheaper.  However, do your homework.  In one case I purchased a book for $3 more than the rental price which means I can resale it and get a portion of my funds back.  Be a smart shopper.
  2. Buy USED books. Whenever possible, purchase a gently used book instead of a new one. The sticker shock won’t be quite as overwhelming.
  3. Compare prices.  Use the resources below and make sure you are getting the best deal.
  4. Find a friend.  Sharing books is not always the best idea when it comes to assignments and studying but you can buy books from friends cheaper than at the bookstore usually.  Find a friend taking a class this semester you plan to take next time and get them to cut you a deal on the book.  Money talks!
  5. Get an older edition.  Depending on your professor, you may be able to purchase an older edition of the textbook and still be able to have the information you need.  Older editions are always cheaper.  Just ask your professor.  It never hurts to ask! All they can do is say no.  In one of my son’s class the professor allowed him to get an older edition and we saved $56.  He still made an “A”!
  6. Get ebooks if available.  They are usually cheaper and are uber convenient.  Good bye heavy backpack, hello electronic file.
  7. Sell your books on the sites below to earn cash to pay for the next round of books!


  1. Half.com – This website is a subsidiary of ebay and does not require you to bid on books.  The prices and conditions are posted and they have GREAT deals.  The selection includes purchase for new books or used books and renting new or used books.  The selling and renting process is super easy.  Half.com is also a great site for novels that elementary or high schoolers have to read too.  The shipping is a flat rate and in some cases expedited shipping is an option.
  2. Amazon.com – This site is a great resource for textbooks as it pulls from several locations and often times will have a large selection and varying price points.  It includes the option to rent or buy.