Cut the Student Costs: 10 Ways to Find the Best Textbooks for Cheap

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The estimated cost for a four-year, out-of-state college experience for one student is over $40,000

Attending college is not an easy task. There are moments of stumbling around to make ramen noodles for the 12th time in a week, and handfuls of late nights studying information that doesn't make sense.

Not only are there moments of mental struggle, but there are also plenty of moments of financial struggle. You have to pay for lodging, classes, food, transportation, supplies, and textbooks. 

Luckily, there are tricks to getting the best textbooks for cheap. Make sure to keep reading below to discover them. 


1. Borrow Books from People Around You

In college, it's totally okay to use free resources around you. This includes using a book you need that a friend already owns. 

If you have a friend who's older than you in the same major, ask them if they have any books you can borrow or rent from them. Offer to buy them lunch a couple of times in exchange for using their book for your biomedical lecture.

Better yet, if you're involved in any group social media pages, such as a Greek life page, post and see if anyone has the book you need! You'll learn very quickly how to use the resources around you in college.


2. Check the Library

Every now and again, your professor will be the ultimate hero and throw a few textbooks you need on reserve at the library. 

When a textbook is on reserve, this means you can typically check the book out for a couple of hours at a time inside the library. You usually can't leave with the book so grab your Starbucks and get comfortable. 

You can find a copier in the library and copy the pages you need to study. You can even take pictures with your cell phone and upload them later on your laptop.


3. Search Ebook Options

Some people like having physical copies of textbooks to highlight, but some people are fine with using a tablet or laptop to study. If you're okay with reading off a computer, search out your ebook options.

Ebooks are typically cheaper than physical books, and most devices give you the option to electronically highlight as you read. Many sites will even let you rent an ebook by providing access to the textbook on their site for however long your rental period lasts.


4. Compare Prices

Unless you need a book immediately, don't buy the first option you see on your website browser. 

Take a while to compare prices and browse through different options. 

Try something, like this site, to gather dozens of options for you to compare.

You'll have options to rent or buy. Some books are in better condition than others, but if you're okay with a few tears, you'll spend less money. 


5. Scope Out Online Marketplaces 

Not only should you use resources directly around you, use online resources such as Facebook Marketplace or eBay. Most people don't plan on keeping all the textbooks they use throughout college so there's a good chance someone is selling something you need.

There's a high chance your university has it's own sort of social media marketplace students on campus use to sell old dorm items or textbooks. Be sure to ask friends if they know of any marketplace or ask orientation leaders as soon as you start college.


6. Sign Up for a Subscription

There are sites available for your use that will charge for subscription, but with the subscription, you receive online access to books, magazines, and articles.

Go check out sites like scribd.com and perlego.com. Both of these sites come with free trials for students, and then you'll pay to keep access to all they offer.

If you sign up just for the free trial, make sure you keep a note in your calendar so you don't get charged. 


7. Share with Friends

While this option isn't nearly as convenient, you might be able to split a book between a couple of friends. You can all pitch in to rent or buy the book. Once you have it, devise a way to share it equally. 

Study together at the library. Make copies from the main book. Send each other pictures of the pages. 

College is hard for everyone so just suffer together on this one!


8. Be Honest with Your Professor

Not only is building a relationship with your professor great for future referral letters, but it also builds honest communication. 

Tell your professor you're dedicated to the course and major, but you do have some financial struggles. Ask them if you're able to use an older copy of the book, if they have a copy you can borrow, or if they're able to place a copy on reserve for you at the library. 


9. Set Up a Trading System

If you have a large community around you with overlapping courses, set up a trading system with people. Create a group chat, and allow people to post pictures of books they have and the textbooks they need.

This way, your group of friends can make trading deals with their book collections. 


10. Go International

Most people don't think to check international editions of textbooks, but they are often cheaper than what you pick up in the local bookstore.

There will be a few slight differences but nothing that'll hinder you from reading the information.


Get the Best Textbooks for Cheap with These Tricks

College is hard enough with studying and creating your new world. The fact that textbooks are expensive doesn't help. Make sure you get the best textbooks for cheap with the tips above.

Whether you buy from an online marketplace or borrow a book from a friend, there are plenty of ways to avoid dropping hundreds of dollars on a book. Make sure to use all of your available resources.

To learn more tips on how to be frugal, make sure you check out our site contact us with any questions. 

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