A pile of brightly colored books with other materials
How to Save Money on Textbooks

When paying for college, many students encounter a gap between their financial aid packages and what they have to pay out of pocket for additional expenses. Textbooks often fall under this category, but buying brand new textbooks every semester simply isn’t financially feasible for many students. 

To help you reduce these costs, I compiled a guide to help you find more affordable college textbooks––where to buy, how to compare prices, available campus services, and finding digital alternatives.

Where Can I Buy Cheaper College Textbooks

Shop beyond your campus bookstore to get the best deals and consider alternative formats:

  • Used Books – You don’t always need the latest edition,which makes buying used textbooks a valuable option to save money. Some textbooks can be purchased for less than a dollar if they are somewhat worn or have superficial damage.
  • Renting – Renting from websites such as Amazon Textbook Rentals or Campus Books can also be a much more affordable way to get the books you need. However, it’s important to ensure the books are returned in the same condition.
  • Digital Versions – Textbooks may be purchased or rented in a digital format and browsed on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone. For many students, this is the most convenient format and digital versions are often much cheaper than physical books. 

Many colleges offer campus services allowing students to purchase used textbooks or rent new ones, but they may not offer the best deal or the version you need. Consider these online bookstores;

Price Comparison Tools For College Textbooks

Finding the best priced books is made easier with price comparison websites developed specifically for books. Just like price comparison websites you may have used for booking a flight these websites list the cheapest textbooks based on your preferences. 

Top price comparison websites for affordable college textbooks include:



Cheapest Textbooks


StudentRate Textbooks

The 5 Alternative Places To Buy College Textbooks

Knowing where to find new and used books at affordable rates is a great start but other channels can be explored to find even cheaper options. 

  1. Search for Previous and International Editions

College textbooks are frequently updated but the general content changes little from edition to edition, especially for subjects such as history and geography. This means buying a previous edition may provide the information you need for your studies for cheaper.However, always email your professor at the start of the semester to check if you can use an older edition to save money

  1. Free Online Resources

You can often find textbooks for free online, especially older editions in PDF versions for free using Google Books, Open Tetxbook Library, and more. The BookScouter.com has a detailed list of websites to access free textbooks.

  1. Visit The Library

Visit your public or on-campus library to access free books, journals, magazines, and more. However, there’s always the chance another student may have beaten you to it, so check early. 

  1. Other Students

Buying or borrowing textbooks from other students is an effective way of saving money. Students have shared books among themselves for decades, and many even set up study groups where classmates share a handful of books. Consider messaging your classmates early on or inquiring on social media to see if anyone wants to go half on a book.

  1. Search on Facebook Groups and Used Online Marketplaces 

If you want to buy a book outright then searching for relevant Facebook groups is a good place to start. You may also consider online marketplaces, such as OfferUp.com and Half Price Books.


The cost of buying college textbooks can cause financial stress for many students, according to American Addiction Centers. But these costs can be reduced with a little time and effort. Buying used books or renting each semester can be an affordable solution, while digital versions can be bought cheaply, or even downloaded for free.

About the Author | Magnus Eriksen is a copywriter and an eCommerce SEO specialist with a degree in Marketing and Brand Management. Before embarking on his copywriting career, he was a content writer for digital marketing agencies such as Synlighet AS and Omega Media, where he mastered on-page and technical SEO. 

By Magnus Eriksen
Magnus Eriksen