How to Save Money On Textbooks & Make It Back

By Brittany Loeffler on September 18, 2018

Every college student wants to save money on textbooks. Not only have the price of textbooks skyrocketed over the last decade, but it’s estimated that college students spend an average of $1,200 on textbooks per year. Why would you want to pay a large amount of money for a book that you will only need for a semester?

There are some ways to hack the system so that you can save money on textbooks and make some of it back at the end of the semester. Sometimes you just have to get creative.

save money on textbooks

via Pixabay

How to Save Money on Textbooks

Imagine what you could buy with the money you save on textbooks. With a little effort, you can definitely save money on textbooks if you follow some of these ideas.

Buy Used Books

Never pay full price for a textbook (unless absolutely necessary) again! There are plenty of places to buy used books. You can check your school’s bookstore, online, used bookstores in the area, or ask friends who have taken the class before. Buying your books used will save you a great deal of money on textbooks.


Nobody likes storing old books that you will probably never open again. So, why not rent your textbooks each semester? This will help you save money on textbooks while keeping your apartment from cluttering up with heavy books. The easiest thing about renting textbooks is that they are delivered right to your door and you can usually ship them back for free.

There are many places to rent textbooks from. You can search online using Textsurf or you can go to your school’s bookstore. Renting textbooks is typically the cheapest way to get your textbooks. However, make sure that it is a book that you won’t reference in the future.

save money on textbooks

by Brittany Loeffler

Avoid the Bookstore 

Avoid going to the school bookstore at all cost. They do not sell textbooks at a value price and will mark up other items such as school supplies and clothing. Everything is overpriced. However, it doesn’t hurt to take a look at the prices of their books. This will give you an idea of what is considered expensive for a particular textbook during your search for a good deal. Typically, you won’t save money on textbooks if you buy them from the bookstore.

Consider E-Books

If you have a Kindle or Nook or even an iPad, you may want to consider looking into buying the electronic version of your textbook. Often times, the electronic version of a book is cheaper than buying the print version. You may even be able to rent an electronic version of your textbook, which will save you even more money!

This also saves you space in your apartment and the shoulder pain from carrying around so many textbooks to and from the library.

Check the Library

Speaking of the library, the first place you should check while looking for your textbooks is the library. You don’t want to wait on this though. The minute you know what book you need for a class, check with your library to see if they have it and how long you can check it out for. This is the ideal way to save money on textbooks because it’s absolutely free!

You do have to consider that you cannot write or highlight in the book, though. This may not work for some students considering there are different learning styles out there.

Share with a Friend

Split the cost of a textbook with a friend who is taking or planning to take the same class. This is a great idea if you are taking the class in the fall semester and your friend is taking the class in the spring semester. If you are both taking the class at the same time, copy the chapters from the textbook to share with your friend.

This can save you a ton of money on textbooks. Consider how much you can save when you only have to pay half of the original price for a used textbook.

Wait Until After the First Class

Some students get very anxious to buy their textbooks before the first day of class so they are prepared for any work assigned during the first week of school. It’s recommended to wait until you go to the first class and hear what your professor has to say about their expectations and how much you will actually use the textbook in the class.

There may even be times that your professor has extra copies of the book that they are looking to sell for a good price or have a recommendation on where to buy the book for a cheaper price.

Subscription Service

If you are one of those students who doesn’t mind using an e-book, then you may want to consider a subscription service. Companies such as Pearson offers a textbook subscription service for $90 per semester that includes interactive material.

You can also subscribe to Cengage for around $180 per year. This subscription gives you access to thousands of textbooks online and they will even ship you textbooks if necessary. Make sure to check that the textbooks you need are included in the subscription before purchasing. This may be the best option in the long run if it offers multiple textbooks you need.

Free Online Editions

If you are an English major or assigned to read a classic book, see if you can download a free copy from online. After a certain amount of time, the copyright runs out, which means the book is made available for free. Simply search for the title on Google or Amazon and it will provide you with a free electronic version of the book. There is nothing better than free books when you want to save money on textbooks.

Do Your Research

It’s important to sit down and do your research on the prices of textbooks. Compare the price of a book if you rent it, buy it used, or buy it new and make a list of the different prices from different places. This is where your school bookstore prices can come in handy.

If you don’t have a lot of time to spend shopping for textbooks, consider using Bookfinder. The website will compare the prices of books from thousands of different sellers and give you the cheapest one. There has never been an easier time to save money on textbooks.

save money on textbooks

via Pixabay

How to Make Your Money Back

Now that you have spent a good deal of money on textbooks, it’s time to try and make that money back. This is where you have to get a little creative. It’s important to remember that since the book is now used, you won’t make back all of the money that you spent on it.

Sell Textbooks Online

There are multiple websites where you can sell your used textbooks. The most common websites are Amazon, eBay, Chegg, and This allows you to set a price you would like to get for the book and receive cash for it. The only thing you have to worry about is shipping the textbook once someone buys it.

Sell Textbooks Back to the Bookstore

Even if you did not buy your textbooks from the school bookstore, most will buy your books from you. While they won’t give you the highest price you can get for the books, it is a quick and easy way to make back a little money. This takes the stress out of not being able to sell it and having the responsibility of shipping the book to a buyer.

Let Your Professor Know

At the end of the semester, let your professor know that you are looking to sell your textbook. If they are teaching the same class the next semester, they may recommend you to some of their students. Some professors even buy extra copies to sell to their students to make it easier for their students to save money on textbooks and ensure that they do actually have the book.

Even if your professor isn’t teaching the class next semester, they may know another professor who is or have a recommendation on where you can sell the book for the most money.

Advertise on Facebook

Sell your textbooks back to your classmates through social media. Often times, there are Facebook groups for specific majors or class years at a university where people can chat, meet, and sell items that they no longer need.

This makes it easier for you to sell your textbooks because you can meet the buyer on campus rather than going to the post office to ship the book to someone. It also allows you to help out other students save money on textbooks.

Amazon Trade-In 

If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of keeping up with an Amazon store listing, you can trade your textbook into Amazon for a gift card. The best time to trade in your textbooks is at the beginning of the semester. The price Amazon pays for your book depends on the supply and demand at the time. Simply look up your textbook and see if Amazon is offering a trade-in deal for it. They will provide you with a free shipping label, making it super easy on your part.

The one downfall about the program is that you do not receive cash for your trade-in. However, it works out if you buy textbooks or other items on Amazon.

Rent Your Books Out

Rather than selling your books to other people, continually make money from them by renting the textbooks out to other students at your school. Have competitive prices so people are more inclined to rent from you than a store or website. If you are worried about the person not returning the book, you can have them put down a refundable deposit.

This will guarantee that you make some extra cash every semester because the book is then returned to you to rent out again. Not only will you help your classmates save money on textbooks, but you’ll also make your money back.

Reuse Your Cash to Buy More Textbooks

The money that you make selling your old textbooks should be used to buy textbooks for the upcoming semester. Sometimes you’ll be able to save money on textbooks and get to keep some of the money you made from selling the old ones. Other times it will just help a little. Either way, if you shop to save money on textbooks, then sell them to make some of that money back and use that money to buy your next set of textbooks, you’ll experience a cycle where you do not have to spend thousands of dollars on textbooks during your college career.

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