A Guide to Saving Big on College Textbooks

Cheap college textbooks? If you used the College Financial Aid Guide, you may have already put together the means to pay for tuition and maybe even room and board at the college of your choice. But financial aid, scholarships and loans don't typically pay for college textbooks, and these books, alone, can be a huge expense.

Fortunately, there are now more ways than ever to save big on college textbooks. There are many sources to explore to find cheap college textbooks, many of them from the comfort of your own home.

Cheap College Textbooks at Your College Bookstore –

This will likely not be your best source, but it doesn't hurt to check the used textbook section of your college bookstore. Don't buy, though, until you've done some research into these other great sources for cheap college textbooks.

Cheap College Textbooks from Amazon, Craigslist, Ebay and Half.com –

Yes, Amazon carries college textbooks and students can sell used textbooks there, too. Students may also put their used textbooks up on Craigslist or Ebay at the end of the semester. Also a great source is Ebay's "Half.com", where you'll find textbooks usually for far less than half-price. Check all these sources by clicking:


www.craigslist.org (Go to – Your city or the area you want to search in, then "For Sale", "books")



Cheap College Textbooks from Various Online College Textbook Sellers –

There are many online sources for buying and selling cheap college textbooks. Each should give you some idea of the book's condition. Here are just some of the top sites you can search to buy and sell your college textbooks:












(Note: Some of the above may overlap with those in other categories.)

Cheap College Textbooks – for Rent! –

That's right; you no longer have to buy your text books, you can simply rent them. It's a great idea, and will often save you 50% or more. Many college textbook rental companies also pay for shipping both to get the textbooks to you and for you to return them at the end of the semester. You pay only for the period of time you have them, no need to worry about selling them after. It's another great and innovative way to save on college costs.

While some of the links to college textbook sellers above also rent, here are some other rent-specific sources:

www.ecampus.com (Use "Marketplace" for the best buys on used textbooks.)




Get Cheap College Textbooks by Using Etextbooks –

With advances in technology and the internet, you can even avoid hauling around big, heavy textbooks all together by buying "etextbooks". These are textbooks you can view or download from online – and save a tree or two. Some may load to your Kindle or Ipad, others may simply be read from your computer. Not all titles are available as ebooks yet, but those that are can save you some money as the cost of the physical book and shipping are avoided. Try these specific sites, as well as others listed in this article, to search for etextbooks:






(Note: You can also find audio textbooks!)

Search For and Compare Cheap College Textbooks Using Aggregate Sites –

Finally, aggregate search sites are a wonderful way to find all the best deals on the college textbooks you need. These sites have already taken the time to pull together a number of the sources listed above as well as campus bookstores and other sellers to find your selections. You can then compare prices, condition and availability of your textbooks from these different sources and place your order right from these centralized sites. (Think Kayak.com for travel related searches.) Beware that all of the aggregate college textbook search sites do not always search all of the sources. You will have to find what works best for you and covers all the bases you need covered. Try these aggregate sites:









A couple of parting tips and warnings:

  1. Be sure to always use the ISBN number of the textbook you need when searching and check the Title, Edition and Author against what you find before ordering.
  2. Be careful that you're not getting an "international" edition of your textbook (unless that is what's called for).
  3. Many of the sources listed provide guarantees of different lengths so you can return a textbook if you get the wrong one. That can definitely be a plus.
  4. While renting can often be a convenient and cost saving way to get your textbook, be sure to compare it against buying a well priced textbook and then selling it back. The extra hassle may be worth it in some situations. Go on a case by case basis with your college textbook purchases.

Best of luck getting your degree for the lowest possible cost, using the College Financial Aid Guide and this guide to Cheap College Textbooks!

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