How To Not Break Your Bank When Buying Textbooks

Tricia Anklam
Published on
May 27, 2021

Depending on your school, you may have to purchase textbooks for your dual credit, AP, and/or any high school or college classes. However, these textbooks can be extremely expensive and sometimes, we don’t necessarily have the money to spend hundreds of dollars on a book we’re only going to use for one class. If you have to purchase a textbook for a class, try these tips so you don’t “break your bank”!

Find a digital version.

Try searching the internet for the book you are looking for! There are several websites out there that either provide a free or discounted version of the book. For digital copies, try websites such as Chegg, RedShelf, and Z-Library. Simply type in the ISBN number or title of the book. Make sure you get the correct edition!

Buy secondhand copies.

If you are like me and require a physical copy of the book because that’s the type of learner you are, try looking at your local resale bookstore. I do not recommend looking at your local university or school bookstore because they overcharge for books. Instead, try checking out shops that resell to find what you’re looking for.

Keep in mind that the size of the store will depend on if they have the book(s) you’re looking for are in stock. For example, a small town local library might not have the specific edition of the book you’re looking for. However, big city stores might!

Get a rental edition.

You can also rent the book! Rental editions come in both digital and physical form so choose what suits your needs! Just remember that you do have to return these books by a set date and that you cannot keep them to resell.

Also, some companies are picky about whether you can highlight and write in the book or not. If you cannot write or highlight in the book, try using sticky notes to write down important information you read. This way you can make a quick note without actually writing in the book.

Resell your textbook.

If you do end up purchasing a physical copy of the book to own, try reselling it! I recommend using Facebook Marketplace or selling it to a person taking the class after you because used bookstores might not buy it back for as much.

To determine price, just evaluate the condition and factor in what you paid for it. A general rule of thumb I personally use is to charge half of what you originally paid, but you can increase or decrease this amount based on the condition of the book.

Use Slugbooks

In addition, there’s also a website called SlugBooks that will compare the prices of books on several websites. Insert the ISBN or title of the book you’re looking for into the search bar and the prices of books from several different online retailers will pop up! You can then compare the prices of the book you’re looking for.

As an example, let’s say I’m searching for American Government: Power and Purpose 15th edition. I see that Chegg has an e-book version for $15 and Amazon has a physical copy for $44. I can either choose the cheaper e-book version or the physical copy, depending on what I’m looking for! You also have to be careful to make sure you do not need the access code for your book because most second-hand books have invalid access codes.

Disclaimer: check first to see if you need the access code to go along with the book! The access code in secondhand books will most likely have already been used, so be careful when it comes to access codes!

However, there’s nothing wrong with purchasing a brand new copy of a book you need; you are the student and you know what will suit your needs. By following some of these tips, you can save hundreds, and possibly even thousands of dollars throughout your education and avoid “breaking your bank!”

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