Buying Textbooks in College: The Smart Gal’s Guide to Affording School (Short of Selling Your Soul or Blood)

Hello darlings!!

Sorry I’ve been unable to write. Ever since my internship ended for the summer I’ve been completely swamped binge watching New Girl on Netflix and packing up to head back to school. Same? Well, if you’re like me, you are probably preparing to go back to school here in the next few weeks. And if you’re like me, you threw up a little in your mouth when you realized just how much books are going to cost this semester. *Sheds tear*

Luckily, I have some good news and some tricks and tips to help pay for those expensive books you’ll probably barely crack open.

Trick #1 – RENT! Renting books saves you tons of money and keeps you from having to worry about selling your book to someone at the end of the semester. Amazon, Barnes and Noble (just to name a few) have many rental options and both carry many university textbooks. I saved over $300 last semester just by renting my textbooks from Amazon instead of buying them used from the bookstore.

Trick #2 – Know a Friend in the Same Class? Share the Book! Now, this trick only works if you have friends in the same classes. I would recommend knowing and trusting the person with whom you share the book, though. And while it’s a bit nontraditional, it’s something that has saved many of my friends lots of money. It works out well if you study better in groups, too.

Trick #3 – Trade With a Friend. Spring semester of my freshman year I needed an English book from a friend and she needed my New Testament book. Instead of selling to her, I simply let her borrow the book (notes included!) and used her English book. It was a win-win and saved both of us money.

Trick #4 – Scour the Local Ads. I know for a fact that most University have a trade/sell board posted in a common area where people can sell stuff they don’t want/need like futons, TV’s, books, etc. I found a book for a computer class I needed for only $40 whereas it was $150 in the bookstore. It not only saves you money but it also helps your fellow student as well.

Trick #5 – E-Books! Last semester I took a biology course where the textbook was written by my professor. Because she knew that books are ridiculously expensive, she added an e-book that came with the purchase of the access code. My professor said if we wanted to save money, we could simply buy the access code and use the e-book online instead of purchasing both the physical book and the access code. Total savings? Over $200 dollars!

Trick #6 – Utilize the University Library. Now, I don’t know if all library’s do this, but my college’s library had most general education textbooks for rent in the library. The service was free and the only snag was the rental period was for two hours. But if you only need the book long enough to read the required section and take meticulous notes, you could save hundreds of dollars without ever purchasing the book!

Trick #7 – Ask Your Professor if the Book is Necessary. Now, fair warning: most professional will be agitated if you ask this question without prefacing it with “Books are expensive, so I was wondering…” Many will assume you don’t care about their class so I would carefully observe their mood and behavior before even asking. Don’t make the mistake of labeling yourself lazy the first week of class. Do explain it’s simply a financial question. Ask your friends if they have taken the course (or if they know someone who has) if the book is needed. Most professors will say the book is needed, but many times you’ll glean all you need to know from class lectures. No joke, I once had a professor who would copy and paste from the book into the power-points. She even had the power-points available online to be printed off. Needless to say I felt I had wasted $170 buying that book.

So here are my tricks after four semesters in college. Hopefully one of these tips and tricks will help with the added expense of books. As the dorky saying goes, RT to save a life.

If you think of any other ways you’ve saved money on books, comment below!!



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