How to be a Smart Textbook Shopper

By Alyssa Laffitte on September 2, 2019

As college students, we are often on a budget. At the start of the semester, much of that budget is dedicated to textbooks. Textbooks can be expensive, but there are ways to obtain your textbook without breaking the bank. In this article, we’ll discuss how to be a smart textbook shopper. 

Buy a used book

Most of the time, you do not need a brand new textbook. You can save lots of money by buying a used textbook. A used book might have some marks and scratches, but it will do the job just as well as a brand new book. Plus, used books are easy to find at your school’s bookstore or online for fair prices. Unless you need a book to write in, like a workbook, buying a used textbook is a great way to save money.

Rent your books

Another way to save money on your textbooks is to rent them. Renting is the best option for books you know you will not need to reference in the future. For example, textbooks for general education classes that are not related to major are perfect for renting. Once you pass the class, you can simply send the book back. Renting is a win-win situation because the book will not sit on your shelf collecting dust, and you will save money! In other words, if you won’t need the textbook in the future, save money by renting it.

Try an e-textbook

If you are tech-savvy and like to carry around a tablet or laptop, you can save money on your textbooks by buying the electronic version (an e-textbook). E-textbooks are convenient because you can access them anywhere you can connect to the Internet. With an e-textbook, there is no need to carry around a heavy book. However, if the Internet goes out, you can’t access your book. You should also consider renting the e-textbook if that is an option since it will cost even less money. For the high tech student, e-textbooks are the perfect way to save money.

Borrow from the library

Borrowing from the library may sound old-fashioned, but there is a reason libraries still exist! Libraries are free and convenient. They have a large selection of books, and simply expect you to return the book in good condition and on time. There is a good chance your campus library has the textbook you need, and you can borrow it for free! However, you might not be allowed to check it out for the entire semester. Also, another student might have already checked it out. It will be hard to get the textbook from the library the week before the exam since other students likely have the same idea as you. In other words, borrowing from the library is a good option, but remember you will likely still need to share the book with other students.

Share with a friend

Speaking of sharing your books, sharing a textbook with a friend is another way to save money while textbook shopping. You and your friend can split the cost of a textbook and share it. This is a financially savvy idea because the cost of the book drops 50%. However, the book will belong to the other person just as much as it belongs to you. You will need to pass it back and forth, and you will need to discuss who gets the book when (especially crucial when it’s the night before the exam and you both need to study!). Just like borrowing from the library, splitting textbooks with friends will save you lots of money, but you will also need to share them.

Consider online retailers

Physical buildings are not the only places you can buy your textbooks. You can save money on your textbooks if you buy or rent them from an online retailer. You can choose a big retailer like Amazon or Textsurf, or from an independent seller from Facebook or Craigslist (be safe when making purchases from independent sellers!). The cost may vary from website to website, so you should browse multiple online retailers before you buy your textbook. Shopping around can be a big money saver! If you’re willing to wait a few days for the books to ship, buying or renting your books from an online retailer is a great way to save money.

Once the semester is over, sell it

If you did not rent your textbook, you could still make some money off it by selling it once the semester is over. You can spread the word about your available textbook by word of mouth, flyers, or online posts. If you can, try selling it to someone you know or someone your friend knows. Selling your textbooks will make you some money and ensure the book does not sit on your shelf collecting dust.

With these tips, you can obtain your textbooks while sticking to your budget.

23, ISFJ. Biology student. College lifestyle blogger. Avid reader and writer. Dog lover. Nerd. Boyband enthusiast. Superhero in training. Here to help you become the best you can be!

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