Unless you have a magical scholarship that covers the cost of textbooks, you’re spending far too much money on something you may never even use. Whether you’re taking Advanced Biology or Shakespeare’s Tragedies, you’re probably shelling out a pretty penny each semester. Sometimes you use the book every day of class, and other times you buy it for $200, and sell it back for $80 at the end of the semester without ever opening it. While we can’t help you know which books you’ll actually use and need, we can help you find cheaper ways of obtaining them.

Buy Online

There are so many places you can go to buy your books online that there’s really no reason to visit the campus bookstore. Amazon, eBay, Half, and Barnes and Noble all offer great deals for textbooks and novels, making it a breeze to get the books you need without paying full price at your school. Simply get the ISBN code and search the inventory of any of those above sites to ensure you get the correct addition. You can also go to Booksprice.com, which is a site that compiles the different places where books are being sold and rented online and populates your results with the cheapest prices they find. It’s like Trip Advisor for textbooks!

Used Book Stores

So your English Literature teacher says everyone has to purchase the Penguin Publishing version of Hamlet, or The Great Gatsby, or Tess D’Ubervilles. Sometimes it’s necessary to follow the guidelines, but there are times when you can get away with a different version of the book. In either case, your first stop should be local used bookstores. One of the most commonly sold/donated book genre is the Classics genre, so you might just find the exact little gem you need. You can also look up “Friends of the Library” stores, which take book donations, then sell them for as low as 50 cents as a way to raise funds for the library.  If you ever need a novel, a play, or any nonfiction book, you should always check out used stores first. They’re like shopping for used books online, but without the shipping fee.

Rent It

The new thing these days is book renting. It’s so genius that I’m not sure why it took so long to become popular. Check out if your school’s campus bookstores offer renting options, and you can get the same book for the entire semester at a fraction of the cost. Many big name retailers, such as Barnes and Noble, also offer book renting for textbooks, novels, guides, and more. If you choose to rent, you should definitely keep the book in good shape, and avoid writing in it or dog-earring the pages.

Some great sites for renting books include Chegg.com, Bookrenter.com, and the Canadian company, Bigmama.ca.

Visit the Library

Whether you head over to your school’s library or the local public libraries in your college’s town, there are plenty of free and available book options. Many teachers will put a textbook on hold at the library, so if you’re organized enough, you can put your name down to borrow it for a few hours, days, or weeks at a time. The only down side of this is that you have to kill the procrastinator within, lest you find yourself stuck with no textbook hours before an assignment is due.  If you’re looking for any kind of fiction or non-fiction novel, most respectable school libraries have a very large stock of these books, so you can almost always find the one you need, as long as you check it out on the first day of class!

[Photo credit: johanl on Flickr]