College Savings Tips: Buy Used Text Books

Many college students will be going back to school soon, so I decided to put together a series of savings tips for college students. Many of the tips that I share are ones that I used myself while I was in college. One of the largest expenses for college students other than rent and tuition, are the dreaded textbooks. The amount that publishers charge for textbooks is criminal. Plus, some of them package a textbook with the workbook and practice tests, so you are forced to buy the entire package or nothing at all. It’s sick, and college students know it. Here’s what you can do.

  • Check your local used text book store. The prices are typically 15% to 30% cheaper than new text books.
  • Check, Craigslist, and for used text books at a fraction of the price.
  • Go to the first class before buying textbooks, and ask the professor specifically how much he or she will use the text book. You may find out that you don’t need it at all or you may be able to get away with checking the book out at a library periodically throughout the semester.
  • Share a textbook with a friend. Work out a system where you take the book for a certain amount of time to study with it, and your friend takes it for the rest of the time.
  • Check out a textbook swap website such as,, and to get rid of old textbooks for ones you need.
  • Publishers love to make new editions just to sell new textbooks and make used ones obsolete. The dirty little secret is that some older editions have EXACTLY the same content as newer editions, and you can find older editions for DEEP discounts.

Don’t settle for paying full price for your textbooks. It’s not worth it, and many professors rely heavily on their own notes for the course cirriculum. More often than not, textbooks are only a reference, rather than the bulk of the cirriculum for a college course. Choose wisely, and do your research. You’ll literally save hundreds of dollars if you follow the tips I listed above.

  • Simon

    Good basic tips. Since I’m still a college student, I’d like to add another VERY IMPORTANT tip:

    Check the flyers on bulletins throughout the school buildings. Many other students cover walls with their Used Textbook flyers. You are bound to find something you need. And don’t hesitate to contact the seller, there are great deals to be found so don’t miss out.

    Plus, when you meet up for the transaction, ask about the class/professor and how to use the book to get good grades!

  • Brandon

    Excellent tips. You definitely shouldn’t pay full price for any textbooks.

    For me, price comparison sites are the way to go. They compare prices from a bunch of bookstores so that you can find the best deal. Use when buying your books and to compare buyback prices at the end of the semester when selling them back. In many cases, you can buy a used book, keep it in good condition, and sell it back and it will hardly cost you anything.

  • Mayra Cedillo

    Between this and the article on used textbooks on wisebread, I think you just saved my sister a ton of cash for her second semester in college. Thank you so much for the new references such as the book swap websites.

  • DG

    going to class first and then scoping out the book store for isbn numbers is a good thing. amazon sells books cheap (sometimes more cheap than used books) but wisebreads is good too and campusbooks. sometimes, race to the library and get some books from there as well!

  • Mac

    Like the first poster, I’d recommend buying and selling your textbooks to other students. Cheaper for the buyer and the seller can sell for more as well. Definitely a win-win, even though it’s still pricey. Sometimes professors post their book list at the last minute, so then you have little choice but to spend the big bucks for a book you may or may not need. Sometimes its unavoidable, but in those cases, check the library first. You may get lucky.

  • Erica

    Another good site is for cheap books and text books, it’s a price comparison search engine site that lets people compare book prices to get the best deal.

  • Jnifer

    Between this particular and the post on utilized textbooks upon wisebread, I think you simply saved my personal sister a lot of cash on her second term in college. Thanks so much for that new referrals such as the guide swap web sites.

  • Felipe Ferrel

    Just browsing and found your website – thanks for sharing.

  • The Book Beaver

    Maximize your profit by buying cheap textbooks for sale at The Book Beaver. It offers students and parents, an interface to buy and sell textbooks in good condition.

  • The Book Beaver

    Maximize your profit by buying cheap textbooks for sale at The Book Beaver. It offers students and parents, an interface to buy and sell textbooks in good condition.