Proven ways to pay less for textbooks

Second semester is a few weeks away, and you’ve probably chosen your classes. As if college weren’t expensive enough, now you have to buy textbooks that may add up to hundreds of dollars. Fortunately, there are ways to cut the cost of your books and still get what you need.

Start early. The earlier you look, the better your chance of finding used books at the bookstore or online sites. You may even be able to find students who have taken the course and are eager to unload their copies. But the bargains go to those who act quickly.

Rent, don’t buy. There are several textbook rental services such as and You’ll pay a fraction of the cover price and return them when you’re done. Or, if you’d like to keep the book at the end of the semester, you can buy it at a discount.

Buy digital versions. At, you can buy eBook versions of textbooks at a significant discount from the printed versions. You may not find every book there, but you’ll probably find most of them.

Use library copies. The campus library probably has a copy of your class textbook. You may not be able to check it out, but you can do your reading at the library. Spending an hour a week there beats shelling out $300 for your own copy.

Share with a classmate. Have a friend who’s taking the same class? Split the cost of a copy and share it. You can each read it when it’s convenient.

Talk to the prof. At many schools, professors are required to choose books, but some rarely use them. Ask the professor if buying the book is mandatory, or if notes will be enough to pass the tests.

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