The Only 9 Ways to Save Money on Textbooks

I just bought my school books for the semester and only paid $149 on all my books–that’s four textbooks and six novels! Here is how I did it:

Before We Begin

Before we begin, you need to understand that buying textbooks from you school’s local bookstore is probably the craziest thing you can do if you plan on saving money for some beer, wine, girlfriends/prostitutes, or professor bribery. There is only one real expection to this rule, but we will get to that a bit later.

Way 1: Amazon.com

Amazon is not only a character in Diablo II. It is the biggest online retail store in the world–for good reason. They offer some of the best savings you could conjure up with your fake magical powers. Just by typing in amazon.com into your Firefox window (you don’t use Internet Explorer, right?), you are saving about $30 per book.

It is not just about going to Amazon, however. You need to learn to play the game. Amazon is know for having spontaneous deals so look out for them under the product description. Today, Amazon was giving out free three-month memberships to Amazon Prime, their subscription service that gives you free two-day shipping on practically any item, if you bought over $100 worth of textbooks. Also, you can always get the free “Super Saver” shipping if you spend more than $25, but that can take up to ten days.

Another deal Amazon was having today was buy three get the fourth free. Obviously, the fourth is the least valued item, but that does not really matter–it’s still free! The only problem with this offer is that you can only use it once per order. However, you can cheat the system and just have multiple orders. I just bought a bunch of kitchen equipment and had three separate orders. As an added bonus all the items will arrive faster as the “Super Saver” shipping puts all or most of the items in an order into the same box. With multiple orders, the items that are ready to be shipped will not be waiting for all the other items.

Lastly, Amazon offers to list items for other merchants even if they are charging less than Amazon. Check out the right sidebar for see for yourself. Usually, you will want to stick with Amazon due to the lower cost and the free shipping, but it does not hurt to look.

As an added bonus every box that Amazon ships comes pre-packaged with love and you will see a big smile on the box when it arrives, literally!

Check it out for yourself and see what kind of great deals you can find.

Way 2: Half.com and Other Online Retailers

Amazon is not the only online retailer. Half.com by eBay is a great alternative to Amazon. You may be able to find a product for less than what it costs at Amazon due to more “regular” people selling their items on Half.com.

There are tons of other online retailers to pick from besides these two and since competition online is so much greater than in brick and mortar locations you will almost always get a better price.

Way 3: Buy Used

Buying used books is a great way to save some cash and save the earth at the same time. Usually, it is better to buy used books in an actual store as opposed to online since you can see what kind of damage, if any, has been done. Buying used books online can sometimes be a gable, but if you buy from a trusted retailer or check out a user’s feedback ratings on a place like Half.com, you can save a big headache later. Buying online however will most likely save you some cash.

Way 4: Use You Connections

Connections are not just for when you want to get a job. You should be using the people you know for just about everything. Why not just buy books off friends or colleagues and save both of you the fees incurred by selling through third parties?

Way 5: Trading

Remember when you were little and trading marbles. Or maybe you are a little bit younger and traded Pokemon cards. Or maybe you are even younger and traded germs like my seventeen-year-old sister and that douche she calls her boyfriend (seriously, he’s from Jersey). Well, you get the idea. Try trading textbooks with people you know.

Alternatively, there are some websites online where you can trade textbooks for free and there are usually places on campus that are student-run and do the same thing. Ask around.

Way 6: Steal Them

With textbooks so expensive, you can just try illegally downloading them. I guess you can try to steal them from a store as well but that is definitely illegal and we are not publicly condoning that. I hear people download a program with BitTorrent and go to sites like The Pirate Bay, Demonoid, or Mininova to download illegal copies of textbooks. We can neither confirm nor deny this but strongly suggest you “investigate” for yourself.

Way 7: “But I’m Still a Child”

Why not remind your parents how hard you have been working at school and how all the money you make, the little it is, goes towards giving you a little bit of free time to keep you sane. Give them a little nudge to buy some textbooks for you. This works or not depending on your parents’ parenting style. If they are the type who charged you rent when you lived at home, then you may not want to bother asking.

Way 8: Your Campus Bookstore?

Like I said, sometimes the campus bookstore will have a great opinion. When professors decided to make their own book and don’t get published by a large company, their own university might publish the horrible book. If this is the case, you are better off staying offline and walking to the store.

Also, sometimes those annoying professors want you to buy a bundle of items. The local campus bookstore might offer all the items in a package and save you some money from buying them separately or having to pay large membership fees to online course supplements later.

Way 9: F@#$ Textbooks

Who says you need to have a textbook anyway? I have gotten by a ton of classes without ever opening the book. I am sure you have too. You can never know for sure before entering the class if a book is really required or not, but I suggest you check out your professor’s ratings on RateMyProfessors to see if somebody mentioned something about that.

Bonus: Getting Some Money Back

Sell your books to get some of the money you spent on them back. If you bought your books online, you may even get back more money than you paid for them. Also try selling books to friends at a value that they are worth. Check online fore current prices and let your friend know that he or she will not need to pay for shipping. Just stay clear of the campus bookstores on this one as they will give you barely nothing for your books. They are trying to make huge profits after all.

That’s It

Those are the only 9 ways to save money on textbooks. Think I missed one? Let me know below.

14 Thoughts on “The Only 9 Ways to Save Money on Textbooks”

  1. I’ll be starting school in the spring after being out of the mix for about 8 years, and I plan to use Chegg.com to rent my books. I really don’t want to have to deal with either keeping the books and hauling them around every time I move or trying to sell the things for a fraction of what I paid.

  2. Thanks Sara. I personally have never used Chegg, but they seem like a type of Netflix per say, where they even pay for all the shipping. Nice find and thanks for the info.

  3. Nice list. I did not know about textbook trading, but found website that does it. booksforbooks or something like that.

  4. yea I never buy text books either. At my school they are not even required.

  5. “…[T]raded germs like my seventeen-year-old sister and that douche she calls her boyfriend (seriously, he’s from Jersey)” is one of the better phrases I’ve read today. Also, have you tried the “cleaning the guns when the boyfriend arrives” move, favored by fathers and big brothers everywhere? If he’s from Jersey, he deserves it.

  6. Thanks Nick, I have not tried that one specifically, but I have walked out in my underwear and shook his hand just long enough for it to be uncomfortable. There is a possible idea for a future story: “100 Ways to Get Your Sister to Dump the Douche Bag”

  7. That is why I created http://www.StudentBookTrades.com. An easy way to find college textbooks that other students have already completed courses for. Students are automatically matched with each other to trade textbooks for classes they have completed. Trade, Swap, sell, or buy college textbooks from other students. Search the book database, contact the student at your home campus, city, state, or nationwide about the book and save money.

  8. Appreciate the info guys, thanks

  9. Another site that helps you save money while providing good foremost FREE textbooks is http://bookboon.com/student. Though being designed as secondary literature they really provide a good overview of the theories in quite a number of areas. Easy to download, no charges and no registration!!!

  10. We love using Chegg to rent textbooks and save a lot of money! I wanted to share a code that your readers can use to get a discount on their text order. Put in the code when ordering and hit the “apply” button. The code also gives you back an additional $5 when selling Chegg your used texts.

    The code does not have an expiration date so it can be used with every order. Here it is:

    CC123047

    Feel free to pass this code to friends!

  11. Here at Oklahoma State University, we have started affordtextbooks.com that helps students compare textbook prices for free.

    Lets make textbooks affordable.

  12. The best way to save money on textbooks is to buy them used online during the months of March or April. During this time, used textbook sellers are marking down their inventory trying to sell off their overstock. You could probably save up to 50% during these months compared to January. You could also make money on your textbooks by reselling them online to companies such as MyBookCart.com. http://www.mybookcart.com

  13. I am a student at the University of Ottawa; when it comes to finding textbooks for University, I have had the most success using http://www.locazu.com – it is free to use and connects you with everything you need to survive university.

    You make a ‘Wishlist’ of the books you need, and then you receive notification when someone in your area posts them for sale – it’s fast and easy to use!

    I had previously tried using Craigslist, Kijiji, Facebook forums, Agora, and other forums, but I found them to be very disorganized – If I found a book that I needed was posted by someone, by the time they would respond to me, it would be gone.

    With LocAZu, the wishlist feature is very helpful because it eliminates the need to repost your books or skim through ads – saving me the hassle and the time.

    So if you’re looking to buy books or sell used books, I strongly recommend trying http://www.locazu.com
    I saved a lot of money!

  14. […] to be geared toward the outrageous cost of textbooks. Across the blogosphere, there appears to be more and more ‘How to Save Money on Textbooks’ articles being written in an effort to alleviate […]

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