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Save on your textbook purchases

Textbooks consume a sizeable portion of your budget each semester. Some courses require multiple, expensive books; others have prepared photocopied packets that excerpt only the relevant chapters and cost less. Whatever the case, you can save on your textbooks with some advance research:

  • Buy used books for substantial savings. Even the latest edition may be available in used copies. Just be sure you get the right book: know the author, title, and ISBN (international standard book number) when you order online or purchase from a bookstore.
  • Ask the instructor if you are required to buy the newest edition. If the new edition has only minor updates or no updates at all, a used copy of the previous year's edition may work fine and cost much less.
  • Online bookstore or auction sites have new and used books, often at discounted prices or with free shipping as incentives. Remember to purchase ahead to allow enough time for shipping.
  • Check online for student book exchanges that offer e-books at no cost or book swaps and exchanges.
  • Libraries on campus or in the community may have books you can check out as long as you observe the time limit for borrowers. Sometimes instructors "freeze" the books so they can't be checked out to give everyone in class access to them.
  • Purchasing books from other countries may be less expensive, even with shipping costs.
  • Check online to see if a book is in the public domain (no longer copyrighted) and available for free download.
  • Some instructors create a bundle package deal that requires you to buy a book and selected readings in photocopied packets. Science classes, for example, may bundle a disk and lab book. Check with the instructor to be sure any extras in the bundle,  such as CD-Rom, are used. If not, you may only need to buy the book.
  • Check for deals or discounts that might be available if you purchase directly from the book's publisher.
  • Rent your textbooks instead of buying them. Many bookstores offer rental terms by semester.
  • Shop around! Compare prices between bookstores and make sure to search online for cheaper rates.
  • Take care of your books so you get the best possible price should you choose to resell them.