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How to Buy Cheap College Textbooks

If you’re a college student, you are painfully aware of the necessary evil that is college textbooks. These books are mandatory for class, invaluable during study time, and arguably cost the same price as a purebred horse. I think we can all agree that college books are ridiculously overpriced. So what are you to do about it? Here are 5 tips to help you buy textbooks without cashing out your life savings.

Buy Used

One of the most common ways to save money on college books is to buy them used. If you are going to school on campus (or know where a campus is in your town), it is likely that there is a used book store somewhere nearby. Sometimes general used book stores have popular books used in colleges. The key is looking and starting early. You will not be the only broke kid looking for a used book for Biology class, so looking as soon as you know what you need is a must.

Rent or Borrow

Renting and borrowing books can take a few forms. Here are the most common ways to get your books temporarily:

  • Check the library at your school. They may keep some common courses’ books on hand for you to borrow for a few hours.
  • Some book stores allow you to rent textbooks for a few weeks at a time. Of course that means you won’t be allowed to write in them, but you can still get the information you need.
  • Unless the class you’re taking is new, somebody in your school has taken it before you. That means they also have the book you need. Keep your ear to the ground to see if anyone would be willing to let you rent (or have) their old book.

Buy E-Books

For the most part, electronic copies of books are cheaper than their hardback counterparts. The savings on paper, printing, and reprinting when updates are made are usually passed along to the buyer. When it comes to your school books, check and see if any resources have electronic copies available. They will normally be in the form of a downloadable PDF. Most PDF readers allow for edits to be made directly on the document so taking notes should be a breeze. If you are old fashioned and like to put pen (or highlighter) to paper, just print the pages you want to study and keep them in a binder. It’s still cheaper than a bound book that costs hundreds of dollars.

Go Online

The world is at your fingertips when it comes to the internet. That means there should be (and is) a way to maximize the internet’s power to get yourself cheaper books. This is probably the best site you can find to buy and rent cheap textbooks and e-books. BooksRun allows you to purchase your class books for up to 60% off the price you normally pay. Shipping is always free, so that’s even more money saved for you. If you’re worried about the authenticity of books sold online, know that BooksRun does not buy or sell counterfeit books; so you can be sure you are getting the best quality. If you’ve already spent an arm and a leg on a book or two, remember that they also buy books from students. Maybe you can at least get the arm back!

Split The Cost With A Friend

Sometimes you have to just bite the bullet and buy a new book. As messed up as that may be, there is still another way to avoid paying full retail price; share the book. If you have a classmate or a friend you can trust, talk to them about sharing the cost of the book. Agree to treat the book like a rental so each of you can use it to its full. You can copy pages you know you will both need at the same time in advance or even do a “timeshare” split. This method requires a bit of trust and planning, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.

If you find yourself in a bind when it’s time to buy textbooks, remember that the odds are not actually stacked against you. If you want to find good, cheap books for your classes, remember your options:

  1. Buying used books. Most book stores, especially ones near colleges have them.
  2. Renting and borrowing books from the book store or someone you know can help you save.
  3. E-Books are not everyone’s preference, but they get the job done and typically for less here
  4. Use online resources to get great deals. If you shop here you’re already ahead of the game.
  5. Split the cost of a new book with a trusted classmate.

Do yourself a favor and take advantage of as many options you have to save money during college. Tuition is expensive enough!

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