5 Ways to Get the Best Deals on Textbooks

Photo of author

It is no secret that going to college is incredibly expensive. There is a lot that needs paying for like tuition, fees, rent, and textbooks. Buying textbooks can be one of the most frustrating experiences of going to college.

You can end up spending a month’s rent on a book you will never even use. There are a variety of ways to reduce that cost. Check out these five ways to get the best deals on textbooks.

1. Check Ratemyprofessors.com

This handy-dandy little site can tell you everything you need to know about a professor. This includes whether they use the textbook or not. It can even tell you when it is acceptable to use an older (and therefore cheaper) edition of the same book.

When you finish enrolling in classes for the semester, print out your schedule and navigate to ratemyprofessors.com. Enter in the name of your professor or search for them by the name of your school. Once you have correctly identified them you can click on their name and see all the reviews past students have left for that professor.

This site encourages users to mark if the teacher used the textbook or not so most professors’ pages have that information. At this juncture, it is important to remember that not every student has the same experience in each class. This is only meant to give you a general idea of the use of textbooks in that professor’s classes; it is, by no means, a guarantee.

2. Buy used books

Your campus bookstore is a good place to start searching for used books. This is especially helpful for textbooks that have been used for decades without a new edition being published. The more times it has been used by another student, the cheaper it will be for you to buy.

This may result in shabby and grungy textbooks but that hardly matters as long as you can read the information on the page. There are many websites that sell used textbooks but not every site is equal in its reliability. BooksRun.com is a student favorite for buying used books because they can count on BooksRun.com to have fair prices.

3. Rent books

This tends to be the best option for most students because they really only need the textbook for one semester. Some majors, like any of the Health Sciences, might find that they need to keep their books to reference in future semesters, but most majors can safely return their books at the end of the semester knowing they will not need them again.

Renting books can be the most economical option as long as you return the books on time. When shopping for rental books pay close attention to the return date and check your academic calendar to be sure that it falls on a day after final exams. Once you have rented and received your books mark each of them with a note that says the date of return and the company you rented them from.

Enter this date in your phone or wall calendar. If you forget, you may end up paying for the full price of the book and still have to return it! A great feature of Booksrun.com is that you can purchase a fifteen-day extension of your rental period for a small fee just in case you fall behind schedule.

4. Sell your books back

If you purchased your books, you can sell them back to various companies including your university’s bookstore. They will pay you less than you paid them in the first place so don’t walk in expecting to make any sort of profit off this transaction.

This is especially true with books that come with an online code for using a special computer program. If you have purchased the book that code is now invalid and therefore the bookstore will only pay you for the value of the book, not the code.

However, if you bought your books, selling them back is the only way you can get even some of your money back. Booksrun.com offers fair prices for books in decent condition. Visit their FAQ page for more information on how to sell books to their website.

5. Share books with your roommate or suitemate

This is the most high-risk option because it involves continuously borrowing the books you need and making sure each person has access to the book when their class has a test to study for. However, in Freshman and even Sophomore years you will find that most of your classmates are taking at least some of the same introductory courses.

If you and your roommate are both taking BIO101, it might be worth trying to share the book and split the cost. As study buddies, you will be able to do your homework together and help each other with the more difficult questions and equations. In this way, sharing books might even improve both of your grades.