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How to Find Cheap Textbooks

What would you do if you needed somewhere to stay for a year and had to pick between renting an apartment for $1,000 a month or buy it for $50,000? I hope that you would choose the monthly rate. Now, what would you decide if you were seeking permanent living arrangements? That may change your perspective. In the same manner, students have to weigh out the pros and cons when shopping for textbooks. This is a daunting task for college students because books are not cheap.

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When tackling the purchase of textbooks, it is essential to know what your objectives are. Are you wanting to keep the book after the class is complete? Do you just need to use it for one semester? Or maybe you only want it for the extent of your college career. Whatever the case may be, you need to know how long you want to keep the textbook.


After you know your textbooks purpose, consider the following:

  • Comparative Shopping. Do your research and look for the lowest prices.
  • Older Editions. Sometimes, the newest edition is required of the class. However, if you ask the professor, you may not need the latest version of the text. The older book may be cheaper, and you could benefit from it just as much as you would from the newest edition.
  • Purchase Used. Believe it or not, many other students more than likely took the course before you. Ask around, and if you’re lucky, you may run into someone that has the textbook. If you do not, then search the internet for used options.
  • Rent the Book. Renting is another cheaper option. It allows students to utilize the textbook for a shorter amount of time with a decrease in cost. Here at Greenville University, students have the opportunity to place orders through eCampus. This service gives back some money at the end of the semester for books purchased and has an effective renting process. They send representatives straight to campus so that students can return their rented textbooks on the spot- saving students the time and effort it takes to package and mail their books.  
  • Seek out your Professor. If anyone knows what book you are in need of, it is the person who is in charge of the class. One carefully worded email could save you tens, maybe hundreds of dollars. Take a few minutes to ask your professors what is needed in the course when it comes to textbooks. Ask them how often the book is used and if the newest edition is required.
  • Consider Sharing. Sharing is caring, literally. Sharing a textbook is sometimes the best option. If you are friends with someone in the class and will be working on the homework and assignments together anyways, why not split the cost and share the textbook?
  • IMG_9014 copyReserve Library Copies. Check the college library to see if they have the textbook on hand. If they allow students to check the book out, you may want to consider purchasing or renting it yourself so you will have it when you need it. But, the library may have reserve copies that stay in the library and students are able to use it there.

It is no secret that college textbooks are hefty. It’s also not hard to fathom that no one wants to pay more money after tuition, room and board, dining options, and all other places and amenities that cost a pretty penny. So when it comes to textbooks, save as much money as possible. Do this by getting an early start! Happy textbook shopping!