How to Save Big Money on College Textbooks

The following is a guest post by Brian Jenkins, who has been writing about various career and education topics for, including college degree programs in finance, for two years.

According to Elsa Magee, acting president of New York Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC), a report showed that the average college student spends $1,000 per year on books. That's a lot of money for college students on tight budgets. Fortunately, students can significantly cut costs by taking advantage of the growing market for used textbooks and rental textbooks.

Used Textbooks

Many campus bookstores sell used textbooks, but these usually fly off the shelves. Some college towns have independent book stores that sell used books.

Most major online booksellers carry used textbooks at competitive prices. Some of the leading online used book sellers are as follows: This website allows students search for used textbooks at numerous stores.

Rent Textbooks

Online book renting websites are increasingly popular with college students. They offer books at a fraction of what used they would cost at campus bookstores. Instead of buying textbooks and selling them back later, students can rent and save money now. Many of the websites (listed below) also provide free shipping.

Students are able to choose the amount of time they want to rent a book for. Some websites allow students to rent a book for 60, 90, or 130 days and extensions are available for an additional fee. These websites also buy used textbooks from students, and the average buyback price at one site ( is $40. Some colleges operate textbook rental programs, so make sure to check with your school if this is an option.

Here are a few of the popular online textbook renting companies:

Swap Textbooks with Other College Students

Find other college students who have the book you need. Students should be able to find other students who have completed the course and no longer need the book. Textbook Revolt helps students rent textbooks from other students or from bookstores.


Online textbooks offer a number of useful conveniences, including high-speed searching and electronic note taking. Depending on the provider, you may not need a special reader to access the eTextbooks, which are usually sold at 50% of the print retail price. However, you may get a better deal by renting or purchasing a used book. eTextbooks typically expire after 180 days. Students can choose to either download the book onto their computer or read it online. Course Smart  is one site that sells eTextbooks.

When you're in the market for textbooks, shop early and always compare prices of book rentals and used books.

Further Reading:


  1. I have to tell you. I laugh at the picture on this post. We own every one of those books except I cannot tell what the blue one is........We have 3 years of medical school left and one more year of textbooks. I will look into some of this. Thank you tons!!! Melissa

  2. My wife is a doctor and I begged her to sell her books during school. She refused. They have sat on the shelf for 10 years. Now they are outdated and worthless. Medical books are the best for getting a return on your investment but you better sell them right away!


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