Saving Money on Textbooks

Tips and ideas for saving money on textbooks from our ThriftyFun community. Post your ideas below!

Wait and See If You Need It

Consider not buying the book until you've been to the first session of the class. Sometimes you find out that the professor plans to use the book very little, or not at all.


Share With a Friend

A friend and I bought one copy of the textbook. We had the same classes and it worked out well. When needed, we copied various pages. We split the cost, it was very cheap when we did not always use the textbook (it was not referred to that much) but we did have the book when the professor made a reference. It worked out well because we worked together on the hard projects.

By Kristi

Check The Library

For reading assignments, check it out of the library. You can buy used or borrow from an upperclassman.

By Diana

Sell Your Old Books Back

Don't forget to sell your books back at the end of the year. You can do this online, at the school bookstore or even at other bookstores. I took a whole stack of books that I figured I would never use again and sold them for hundreds of dollars. I kept a few and, 10 years later, I have never opened most of them.


By Jess

Buy Used and Search for the Best Deal

There are lots of sites online where you can buy/sell textbooks now. You can also often get deals at the school's bookstore, as students sell back their books of recent semesters. When I was at school, we also used to post our used text books for sale on the bulletin board. (Remember that editions change and it's important to get the right/newest one.) Some people managed to use the library's text books, but I have no idea how they did it, maybe by paying library fines?

By pam munro

Search by ISBN

If you can get the ISBN number, plug it in on Ebay and also on I have saved hundreds on my daughter's college books, which are a giant rip-off, I must add.

By Susan

Buying Used

Seek to buy the used textbooks at the bookstore and go through them, looking for the ones with the least amount of underlining and 'chicken scratches'.


The used ones go first. So do your shopping early, save the receipt for returning to the store if needed. Be sure to note the dates when returns are no longer accepted.

One thing I would like to point out is that a lot of the classes are now using online labs. The new text will come bundled with the secret password for online access. You can buy this password separately, but more often than not, it's less expensive to buy the new text & pass rather than used text and buy the pass separately. For instance, my math class online access is now at something like $60 - $75 depending on whom I talk to. If you purchase the text separately, you'd have to get it pretty inexpensively, to make up for the online fee. Yet one more thing to be aware of!

By Holly


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By Carol in PA (Guest Post)
September 14, 20070 found this helpful
Top Comment

Buy used textbooks. My kids were able to get them through their college bookstore. Then they were able to sell them when they were finished with them. You can also try or other internet sources of used books. Be sure to get the exact same book the teacher has planned to use. A different publication date can alter the contents.

Best of luck

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September 13, 20070 found this helpful

I home school my children, and text books can be so expensive! I have gotten my best deals from thrift stores. Also, ebay is great for finding used homeschool texts. I will use older texts even from the 1960s because the information is still just as good now as it was then (some subjects are a bit dated though so I am careful).


I also watch freecycle and go to as many yard sales as I can. Consignment areas of book stores are a good place to look too.

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