How to Save Money on College Textbooks

With each passing year college tuition continues to rise and that doesn’t even account for additional college expenses including living costs and of course… textbooks. According to an article published by CBS, the average cost of college textbooks has risen four times faster than the rate of inflation over the past 10 years and can add an additional $2,000 to yearly educational costs.  But, don’t despair! There are some pretty nifty cost-saving hacks you can take advantage of to help shave a few extra dollars off the top of your investment.

Sharing is Caring

Consider sharing book cost with either your roommate or close friends who are taking the same courses. Of course making sure everyone has the access they need to study can require a bit of planning, but it’s definitely a solid option where your wallet’s concerned. Or, better yet, if you know someone has finished a class you’ll be taking the following semester, politely ask if they’d let you borrow their books. Sweeten the deal and let them know you’re game to provide assistance in selling the old books for them! 

Go Digital 

This is when investing in an electronic reader is going to be key. Initially, you may be put off by the upfront cost of buying a reading device, but going digital can definitely win you eco-points while also saving you money and lots of unnecessary back pain! While some ebooks can still run a pretty penny, they’re often cheaper because their prices cut out shipping and printing costs which allow them to offer new releases at a competitive advantage. Keeping this in mind, it could be worth it to shop around and price compare, and with the convenience of the internet, it’s never been easier to see who’s offering the most competitive prices.

Reuse, Recycle 

Buying used books is the number one way college students have been able to save more money and use their discretionary income on “more important” college expenses such as summer break trips and happy hour. 

If you can’t find a friend who’s taken the classes with the books you need, there are plenty of other ways to secure your required reading without having to pay full price. You likely already know Amazon secures a variety of used options, but if you want to get even thrifter, check out your college or universities’ used bookstores. Many times students are too busy or overwhelmed to make the time to resell so you might be surprised how many nearly brand new books are dropped off and offered for a fraction of their original cost.

Get your cashback 

So remember those students we just mentioned who couldn’t make the time to resell their book? Don’t be one of those people. There are countless ways to earn at least some of your money back, and most of them can be found with just the click of a mouse. 

Aside from Amazon, there are hundreds of sites which allow you to simply enter your book ISBNs and will give you a price quote for your book based on its quality and demand, and will often even email you a shipping label. Hey, every little bit counts — right? 

Unearth your library card 

Gasp! Yes… the library is still a viable option for finding the information you need. But first and foremost: Read your syllabus! Not only read it, but really review it. Often there are books listed which will only be used partially (maybe even for only a chapter or two). And sometimes for particular classes like literature or history, the required reading may call for popular novels which are easily found at the library. Plus…going to the library is a nice excuse to get some much needed quiet and possibly even some study time in.


Living on a college budget isn’t easy. Use these tips to help you save money on your books and make the most out of your educational investment.

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