How to save big on college textbooks this year

The university has become more and more expensive over the years, and the problem only seems to get worse. Not only do students have to cover the rising cost of tuition and fees, but there are also personal expenses, transportation, and room and meals to pay – often with the help of student loans.

Unfortunately, students often forget to plan for the cost of books and supplies, which can add up quickly. According to figures from CollegeBoard, students should expect to spend about $ 1,298 per year on textbook supplies while attending public four-year schools. Considering that tuition and average fees at four-year colleges currently stand at $ 10,560 for the 2020-21 school year, that’s over 10% of additional university fees that few people know how to predict.

Fortunately, you have some control over the price you pay for college textbooks, as well as other types of supplies you need for school. Saving money on college textbooks requires early planning and compromise, but the effort will be worth it.

Here are some of the best ways to save money on textbooks for the 2021-22 school year:

Find manuals on the Gutenberg project

If your academic specialization relies on basic texts that may be available through public access, you should always check whether you can access the course materials or textbooks for free. Project Gutenberg is one of those places to do just that. No fees or registration are required to access over 60,000 free e-books, which you can download on a Kindle or read online.

Project Gutenberg features some of the world’s greatest literatures, as well as older works for which US copyright has expired. You can even use the website to search and browse textbooks and other books by author, title, subject, language, type, popularity, etc.

Buy used textbooks online, including international editions

The worst place to buy textbooks is usually your campus bookstore, unless you can find second-hand editions there. Either way, you should strive to find used textbooks instead of buying new ones when you can.

There are plenty of places to buy used textbooks on the web, including current and old editions that can work really well. The most popular used textbook sites to check out include,,,, and even

Also, be sure to search for any used textbooks you need on!

Buy an older edition

Some academic subjects don’t change much from year to year, but that doesn’t stop book publishers from creating new editions of textbooks that new students can purchase each year. You can win this game and save a lot of money if you are willing to research older editions of the books you need for the class. Not only are you more likely to find a used version of an older edition, a book that is several years old will get a lower selling price to start with.

Just be sure to compare the two books (or ask your teacher – many sympathize with the prices of the books) to make sure there aren’t any major differences in subject matter. Most of the new editions contain the same general information with better graphics and different page numbers, but you’ll want to be sure.

Rent your textbooks

Websites like and even allow you to rent college textbooks, which actually makes a lot of sense since you probably only need your book for one semester of your college experience.

You can search for Chegg by author name, book title, or ISBN, and you have 21 days to return books if they are not suitable for your course.

Compare types of books (if available)

Also, be sure to compare the versions of each manual to find the best deal. For example, you might pay less to rent a pocket version of the manual you need, but a digital version could come for an even lower price than that.

As an example, we reviewed a biology textbook on (Sylvia Mader’s Biology, 13th Edition). You can rent or buy a hardcover version of the book for $ 39.71 to $ 121.32, but you can also rent a paperback for around $ 58. If you don’t mind reading your book on a mobile device or Kindle, you can also get an electronic textbook for $ 37 to $ 41.

Check the open education network

Also find the books you need on the Open Education Network, which provides a free library of textbooks that anyone can use. The community behind this network focuses its efforts on finding open-licensed academic textbooks. The majority of the books on the network are peer reviewed and all are completely free.

You can use the network to browse textbooks and materials, and all books can be downloaded and distributed for free.

Share textbooks with classmates or friends

If you and friends are taking the same classes, there is nothing in the rules that prevents you from sharing textbooks. You can share the same book in the same semester as long as you are willing to cooperate with each other, but you can also partner with a friend and buy different textbooks to swap from semester to semester.

This strategy can work well if you buy new textbooks and split the costs, but you’ll save even more if you can buy used versions of the books you need.

The bottom line

Like anything you buy, it’s worth shopping around and comparing your college textbook options. You can find the book you need on a used basis for a much lower cost, or you can rent a book you only need for a semester instead of buying.

The best way to save on textbooks is to avoid your school bookstore like the plague and start searching online for the books and supplies you’ll need for school. Buying second-hand, renting, and finding free versions of the material your lessons need can save you big money, but you’ll find the best selection of used books if you start your search early. possible.

About Joan Ferguson

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