It is no secret that college is expensive. I mean….really expensive. In 2017, the average in-state public college costs more than $25,000 per year (source: Collegeboard.org). The thing is – that total does not even include the cost of books. That, my friends, will cost you extra.
There is no getting around the need for college text books. They are required in order to get an education. But, before you stop by the bookstore and buy them, check out these strategies to find cheap or even free books.
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HOW TO GET FREE COLLEGE BOOKS
REVIEW THE SYLLABUS
If you don’t follow any other tip in this article, make sure you do this one. The reason is that it will outline both those books which are required for the course as well as any which may be optional. Yep! You may not need to buy every book you think.
The problem with most students is that they go to the bookstore and search for the books needed for each class and pay for items they may not really need. This leaves you with some you really may not have needed at all (which costs you more).
Just take the time to carefully look it over and then make a master list of the books you must have for your class.
RENT BOOKS – DON’T BUY
Let’s face it, most of the books you use in college are used only for that specific course — never to be opened again. Why buy something you will never need again? That makes no sense at all, does it?
That is why if you can, always try to rent college books rather than buy them. You can use them for the entire semester and when you are through, return them.
Here are two sites you might want to look into when it comes to college book rentals.
- Amazon:. You can save upwards of 80% off of the cost of books simply by renting them from Amazon.
- Bookrenter: This is another resource for you to rent your books, where you can save upwards of 90%.
IF POSSIBLE, BUY USED (and then sell them)
There may be instances where you must purchase a book. If you find yourself in this situation, then skip new and find a used version.
These books may already have notes and highlighted pages in it, but sometimes, that can play to your advantage as they have helped you figure out some of the most important sections of the book. 😉
When you purchased used college books, you can often save 60% or more. While you may find used books at your bookstore, you can also go online and see what it is you can find. I would use Amazon as a resource for finding used books.
When you finish the semester and are done with the book, turn around and sell it! You can use resources such as Amazon (where they offer as much as 80% back on your books), Craigslist and even eBay to sell college books online.
CHECK WITH LAST SEMESTER’S STUDENTS
You might be able to skip the bookstore or online completely by asking around to find someone who took the class the prior semester. He or she may have the book and might be willing to sell it to you directly, usually at a discount.
This is not always an option, but one to consider, especially if you know someone who is taking the same course content as you – just a bit ahead of where you are currently in your education.
USE A PRIOR VERSION
Books often are updated to release a newer version. Sometimes, only small parts of the book get changed, which can mean that most the older book is the same as the newer, more recent one.
Take a moment and ask your professor if the older edition will work for your class. If so, you can often find the older book editions cost much less than the newer ones.
This might seem unconventional, but it can work. If you have a friend who is taking the same course, you might consider sharing the books. That way, you can get what you need at a savings of 50%!
Now, the only issue you might experience with this method is that you both need to use the book at the same time (especially around finals). However, if you create a simple schedule, you can study a different course at the time your friend has the book and then, start studying when he or she is through with it.
College textbooks are a necessary college expense. However, that does not mean that they have to be an expensive one. By applying these ideas and thinking outside of the box, you can find the books you need and still have money left over (you know…..for school supplies ;-)).
COMPARE TEXTBOOK PRICES
Don’t grab the first book you find. Take the time to research and compare book prices to ensure you get the best deal. Check out sites such as Bookfinder, where you can enter the information about your book and find where to buy it at the lowest price.