3 Ways to Save Money on Text Books When School Is Right Around the Corner

Learn how to save money on text books without using outdated resources.

Save Money on Text BooksIt’s difficult to save money on text books. We’re not going to lie. Buying them is one of the most frustrating parts of paying for an education. You already shell out hundreds of dollars per class for instruction. Why aren’t the essentials included? It’s a racket, but it’s one you can find a way around with these surprising tips:

Buy used books.

Most campus bookstores have pre-owned copies of every text book you need. They also have new copies and probably have a few copies for rent as well. They tell you this is to save money, but they work for the school and are trying to make money. Don’t trust them to sell used copies for as low as they’re available. Instead, get the ISBN code from the back of the book (or from your syllabus) and search online at eBay, Amazon and BookFinder. 

Don’t worry about being stuck with an old, outdated version. We found books needed for next semester – the exact editions – available for pennies on the dollar. They’re used, so they might have markings, ear-dogged or torn pages, a damaged cover and other signs of use. Most of the time, these issues won’t have a major impact on whether you’re able to use the book for class. Who knows? Someone else’s notes might even help you understand the material better!

Need a school-specific version? Before you buy that new or overpriced-used copy, talk to your professor. Ask if it’s essential to have this information and what the impact will be if you don’t. If it is absolutely necessary, check with local Facebook Buy-Sell groups before shelling out top dollar. 

Offer to trade books with other students. 

We know students sometimes share books if they’re in the same classes. To be honest, this can be a big inconvenience. You don’t want your studies disrupted because a friend wants to take the text book home for the weekend. Instead, consider swapping books with other students who have previously taken the class. How? Organize a book swap.

You might run into problems organizing a book swap on-campus, so consider nearby libraries and churches for meeting space. Have someone check donations to make sure they’re still in use and in reasonably good condition. Most importantly, make sure people know what will happen to leftover donations after the book swap. If you’re going to host a sale, you might need to take additional steps to ensure you handle the money according to school policy. 

Get your text books for free.

There are several websites where you can find free text books for the taking. This is kind of a grey area, depending on the website. Some sites are set up by individuals who upload book content without permission. While it’s not legal to post copyrighted information to the web, it’s not illegal to read. However, some publishers make ebooks available for people who don’t need a physical copy. 

You might also be able to get a text book through your school or local library. Don’t get discouraged if a title isn’t listed. Instead, talk to the librarians about interlibrary loans. These agreements allow libraries to trade books with one another for their patrons. Just put in your request as soon as possible!

Finally, your instructor might have cheap options available if you can’t afford the materials. They often have extra copies you can borrow or use to follow along in class. You can also use these copies to supplement older used versions you can afford. Simply photocopy the pages that have differences and secure them in place. 

It can take time and practice to learn how to save money on text books. If you need a bit of wiggle room, a title pawn can help. Call or visit your nearest Title Tree store to find out whether you qualify.