My first year of college, buying textbooks was the absolute worst. Going to the bookstore, picking out brand new books and spending hundreds of dollars on books I would rarely use. Not only did it drive me crazy spending that much money, it left me with almost no money for things like school supplies, food shopping, or transportation. I felt like I was constantly calling my parents to help me out with an overdraft fee or to borrow money. I was starting off my semester with such little money, I was just setting myself up to fail. I needed something to change with the way I bought textbooks.

I started learning these tips and tricks in my sophomore year, right around the start of 2016. It’s 2019 now, and while I’m still learning, I’ve got my textbook budget down pretty low! My first semester I spent over $600 on textbooks alone. This current spring semester comes to about $250, and I bought quite a few of my textbooks this semester

1. Wait until the First Day

Professors are always required to have their textbooks on their syllabus as ‘required.’ Often, professors will tell you that the text is optional, or you’ll see in the course schedule that you won’t need it for assignments. If that’s the situation, you don’t need to spend the arm and a leg on the book at all. And if you don’t know, you can always buy the book later on!

2. Look on Facebook

When you do decide to get the book, always check Facebook marketplace and groups for your school. Between semesters and even into the first few weeks you will see endless books for sale, people looking for books, and asking if their professors actually use the books. Using Facebook to find your books is a great way to get a not only save money, but help your classmates get some money back for their books too.

3. Use Slugbooks.com

I love Slugbooks.com. This is the best website I’ve ever found for searching for textbooks. You just put in the title or ISBN number for your book, and Slugbooks shows you the prices for buying or renting from Amazon, Chegg, Abebooks, and Barnes & Noble. I personally buy/rent the most from Amazon and Abebooks. Amazon because Prime, duh, and Abe has the hands-down best prices. Downside, horribly long shipping. Upside, you can afford expedited shipping because you saved so much on your books!

4. Look for Generic Editions

This is my least favorite trick that colleges pull to get your money. Some textbooks will have a school-specific edition. I have attended 3 colleges across 5 years, and taken over 150 credits. I have seen my fair share of university specific editions and can safely say that the only differences between university and generic editions are: Color Scheme and one extra page, with your colleges name on it. Save yourself literal hundreds of dollars and look for the generic. Just look up the title and edition on any search engine, then you can grab the ISBN to search for (see above, slugbooks!)

5. Try Digital Editions

This is something I never tried until this year, because I am not an e-book person. I had a Kindle and a Nook, and I rarely read either one. I prefer to hold and carry physical books than read them digitally. For the first time last fall I rented an e-book. It was half the price of any other options, and I only needed it for a handful of assignments during the semester. Digital was nice because I didn’t need to carry another book, just the kindle app on any device. Is this my first choice? No. But is this worth saving a ton of money? Absolutely.

6. Check the Library

Fun Fact, your college’s library is usually required to have a few copies of the textbook available for basic-level classes. Unfortunately this tip doesn’t help my fellow upper-level course students, but it is an absolute must know for freshman. While sitting in the library might not be your favorite way to spend an afternoon, it’s certainly better to sacrifice a few days during the semester to get your work done in exchange for saving a couple hundred bucks on a textbook

Bonus: Resell Your Books

And not at the book store! College bookstores will often give you $2-7 for a textbook that could have cost you well over $150. Look at Facebook groups, marketplace, Craigslist, and Slugbooks in order to get tons more money back than the bookstore would give you.


Buying textbooks was always my least favorite part of college, and a generally horrible way to start the semester stressed and broke. Hopefully, these tips helped you save a few dollars this semester, and in future semesters. What are your best tips for saving money on textbooks?

Related Post