How to Save Money on College / University Textbooks - Bookstore Alternatives

Updated for Year 2019

Text Book Buying and Renting Tips and Tricks Guide for Saving Money on School Books

How to and Where to Buy School and College Textbooks for Cheap and Save Money
Bookstore Alternatives

Spending Money on Textbooks

Everyone is pretty much fed-up with the extortionist pricing practices of college textbook publishers. Fortunately, more and more textbook buying alternatives are becoming available to combat this. This page will cover the various textbook buying options that are available to you. Renting textbooks is also discussed. And there are a few useful links here and there.

Saving Money on Textbooks

Buying New Hardcover

For subjects relating directly to your major, you probably want to buy a new, combined hardcover and DVD. You will want to keep the textbook, both as a reference and for the memories. Regretfully, this does limit your choices.

You will find a wide disparity in textbook pricing. In addition to checking the bookstore price; it would be wise to check the textbook prices from at least two other random vendors. Note the exact title, author, publishing date, and ISBN. You will also want to note the used textbook price for reference purposes. If you are early enough, you might find an unmarked-up copy; it happens. Find out the textbook buyback price while you are at it; however, there are no guarantees that the price will still be the same at the end of the semester.

Go to your search engine and enter: ISBN "0-395-62883-0" price. Substitute your ISBN and be sure it’s in quotes. Be very sure to look beyond the first page of results. The wide disparity in textbook prices will become apparent, both new and used. You will also begin to get a good idea as to who are the better sellers. Do this for all your ISBN’s.

Buying Used Hardcover

There are lots of options here.

Most of the information described in “Textbooks: Buying New” also applies to buying used.

Check out all bulletin boards. This includes the bookstore, cafeteria(s), the building where your class is located, the department building for your class subject, libraries, dorms, and even student-favored local shops and stores. Also check if there are any textbook related local online bulletin boards.

Track down the instructor. Does the instructor have extra copies? Does the instructor have any advice?

Network, ask around; everyone is talking about textbook prices and availability anyway. Find out what information is out there. Especially do this as you are going around checking the bulletin boards.

Buying Electronic/Digital

Your textbook may be available digitally. Most of the information above applies here as well.
  • Do a search for: ebook textbook.
  • Do a search for: textbook ebook.
  • Do a search for: online textbook.
  • Do a search for: textbook online.
Network and ask around.

Does the bookstore have an eBook Section yet? Don’t forget to factor in the cost of the reader.

Renting Textbooks

Renting is an option for many textbooks. Be sure to check the pricing from more than one vendor.
  • Do a search for: textbook rent.
  • Do a search for: rent textbook.
Network and ask around.

Does the bookstore have a Rental Section or option yet?

A Note:

There are media reports about on-campus theft problems. Never leave your textbooks or other belongings unattended.

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