How to save money on textbooks

Every semester, students from across the country drop thousands of dollars on overpriced textbooks. Rather than get gouged by your campus bookstore, we'll show you how to get the books you need at a fraction of the cost.

Look for free sources online
Before you hit the bookstores, fire up your Web browser and check if any of your books are available for free online. Sites like Bartleby and Project Gutenberg can save you from unnecessary purchases with free online copies. Both sites let you search by author or title and have extensive libraries that can benefit English and non-English majors alike.

Another contender is Google Scholar. This site lets you search for books, abstracts, and articles. It also has an impressive collection of articles from various academic journals. In cases where a full article isn't available, Google Scholar will redirect you to a local library which offers the full article online.

Finally, if you can't find your books online, try the library. Sure, it's the most obvious place to search, but it's also the most overlooked, giving you a better chance of finding the books you need.

Buy used copies
Buying used textbooks is the quickest way to save money in college. However, the price you pay for used books can vary. So instead of heading to the campus bookstore, where everyone will be vying for the same textbooks, we suggest looking outside your campus where you'll find a better selection of books. Sites like,,, and Barnes & Noble will not only offer better prices on used books, but lower prices on new textbooks as well.

Another alternative is, which lets you rent textbooks by semester, quarter, or for the summer. There's no limit to how many books you can rent and there are no subscription fees. Just pick the books you want and they'll deliver them to you.

Finally, try to exchange used books with other students who've taken the courses you're enrolled in. And don't worry if there's a new edition of a college textbook. Most of the the time the changes are cosmetic, with new introductions and illustrations.

Compare online
Aggressive bargain hunters can check out sites like and These sites are like PriceGrabber for textbooks, crawling online vendors for the books you need and then sorting them by price. even lists coupon codes to help you save more money. It's worth noting that a small portion of the stores affiliated with these sites aren't based in the U.S., so you'll want to inquire about delivery times before placing your order.

Resell your used textbooks
While most students might be tempted to resell their used books back to the campus bookstore, we recommend selling them directly to other students. We don't suggest hawking them to your classmates, but you can make a better deal or profit if you sell them to classmates you know.

Louis Ramirez is dealnews' Features Editor.

DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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