When I was a college freshman, let me tell ya, I was soooo naive about buying college textbooks. I didn’t have anyone to give me any pointers, and I ended up spending a fortune on books by buying them all new through my school’s bookstore. Which, by the way, is a big N-O in terms of saving money on books. But if you do it right, textbooks don’t necessarily have to cost you an arm and a leg. So whether you’re just starting college or have been a college student for a couple years now, I’m here to give you some tips on how to save money on college textbooks.
Utilize Your College’s Facebook Groups
If your school has active Facebook groups chances are there’s a group or page for selling used textbooks. The Facebook groups at my school were GOLDEN when buying or selling college textbooks. Seriously. Most of the textbooks I bought from my college’s Facebook groups were priced $15-40. However, that’s still SO much cheaper than buying a brand new $200+ textbook from the college bookstore. I’ve found that people don’t mind selling for reasonable amounts on the FB group because they are still getting more money back than what they might have gotten from selling their books back to the college bookstore.
Another great thing about buying from your school’s Facebook group is that sometimes you will have professors who will write their own textbook or require a custom book that is different from the original. If this is the case, these custom books might not be available elsewhere online. So instead of buying new at your college bookstore (read: probably for a really expensive price), there’s a good chance that people from your school might be reselling them on your college’s FB page for much cheaper.
Slugbooks.com is a website that really comes in handy if you want to compare college textbook prices over a variety of retailers. You can also use Slugbooks to see whether it would be better for you to buy new, used, or rent. All you have to do is type in a textbook’s ISBN # and voila, you’re probably going to see a page that looks like this:
From here, you can easily see and compare prices across several retailers, including Amazon, Chegg, or Barnes & Noble. You can also use this to compare textbooks prices online vs. the prices from your college’s bookstore. P.S. I highly recommend that you search via ISBN # rather than title. That way, you can make sure you’re getting the right edition or volume that you need for your class.
Amazon Prime is another great thing to have when you’re in college. You can get a free trial of Amazon Prime for 6 months and then get 50% off of Prime while you’re a college student. And let me tell ya, having Prime and that 2 day free shipping was lifesaving. Once I got off the free trial, I calculated it and the amount I saved on shipping after paying for Prime definitely ended up paying for itself. The 2-day shipping is also great to have because if you want to get started on the reading in the first couple weeks of class (which I’m sure you’ll need to do), it’s a big pain having to wait for textbooks to arrive in the mail. Before I signed up for Prime, I bought a textbook from Amazon from a third party seller, and it literally took 3 weeks for my textbook to come in the mail. By that time, I was way behind in the reading for that class already. So like I said, free 2-day shipping is nice to have.
Rent Textbooks When You Can
Renting your college textbooks can also be huge in saving money on books versus buying new or even used textbooks. If you’re taking general education classes right now, I highly suggest renting your textbooks. For example if you’re not a science major, will you really need that chemistry book again? Probably not. Rentals helped me out a ton, especially when I was able to rent a book like my investments textbook through Amazon for $30 rather than dish out close to $300 if I were to buy new. Even on some books in your major, you can probably get away with renting instead. However, if you think you might need to reference a book again for another class you’ll take later on in your college career, it might be a good idea to buy the book instead of renting.
Required Textbook Online Access Codes/Content Doesn’t Mean You Have To Buy New
If your professor requires an access code to an online homework or other access to a textbook’s online content, that doesn’t mean you have to buy a brand new book. I had this happen a lot, usually for textbooks of mine through the company Pearson. If this happens you can usually still buy or rent the textbook. You would just have to buy the access code separately from the publisher. However, buying the access code for the textbook separately still tends to be for cheaper than buying the textbook new. For example, to buy my calculus book new and with the included access code, it would have been around $250. Instead, I ended up buying a used copy off of Amazon for $25 and bought the access code for the online homework separately through the publisher for $50. That means I was still able to save money by buying the book used and access code separately than buying the book new with the bundled online access code.
One Last Tip…
Before buying used books off of people (or even buying any textbook in general), make sure that:
a) the ISBN # matches the one that is required by your professor and
b) even if the ISBN # matches, still make sure you see a picture of the cover and that the author and edition are right.
How do you plan on saving money on college textbooks? And if you’ve been there, done that like me, what are your tips for saving money in college?