How to Get Cheap Textbooks and Even Free Textbooks - Some Tricks

Cheap Textbooks?

Yes, and Free Textbooks, Too

How can I find cheaper textbooks? And why are they always so expensive?

Since, I'm attending an extremely cheap community college my biggest expense is always textbooks.
My Dad told me that when he was in college, way back when, it was the same then. Textbook prices were way out of line.

He said the privately owned college bookstore had so much cash flow that the owner was hardly ever in town.

He was always on vacation in some exotic local.

Image by Everfalling

There are three aspects to getting cheap textbooks. We will discuss all three, buying and selling used textbooks, downloadable textbooks (free and paid) and renting textbooks.

 Using a combination of these three textbook acquisition methods will keep your wallet fat, your chin up and your self-respect in trim. The best place to find cheap textbooks is online. Duh, right? But we are talking about so cheap it's free.

 Actually, we are talking about FREE. What we are talking about are free books that you can download (or read) directly from online.

There is a really great torrent for downloadable textbooks at a site called 

Unfortunately at the moment they are in an embroglio over copyright issues, so that torrent is not available at the moment.

Just for the record, we do not recommend illegal downloads of textbooks under copyright. What we want to show you is how to legally download textbooks (many times for free).

There are many, many options out there and our page on textbook downloads will give you the downlow.

The second aspect of hunting for cheap textbooks is textbook rentals. Textbook rentals have recently become a much better and cheaper option for low cost textbooks than they used to be. There are many more titles available and the average cost has gone down.

Last and super obvious is buying cheap used textbooks, but therein lies the secret. How do you get the super, super cheap deals and how can you actually make money buying and selling used textbooks?

No Brainers

  • Start early. It's never too soon to find that bargain. Read Secret to Buying CheapTextbooks.
  • Think ahead. What textbooks do you need for the whole year?
  • Sell your old textbooks immediately - they lose value fast.

Sometimes it's better just to buy cheap textbooks from the campus bookstore. Keep your eye's open for the salacious deal.

Definitely don't sell your textbooks back to the campus bookstore -- unless time is more of an issue than money. Campus bookstores usually only give you 20% of the purchase price. You can do much better than that!

You'll always get a better price selling your used books on the school bulletin board, or online - either ebay, ecampus or Amazon.

3 Strategies

Three strategies I have used to get cheap (or free) textbooks.

1. If the book is a classic, such as Pride and Prejudice or Plato's Republic, there is no reason to buy a hardcopy. Most classics are now online at Project Gutenberg. Full text. FREE.

2. Always, always, always get the specific ISBN from your instructor before you dive into the online textbook trade. Without the ISBN number you can end up buying the wrong edition, the workbook instead of the text, or even the wrong book -- but same title. I've done all of the above! Not a good surprise.

3. Ask the instructor if it's absolutely important to get the newest edition of the textbook. At least ninety percent of the time I hear... "nah".

The newest edition of any textbook is always at least 80% more expensive than the older edition. And the older edition is often available brand new, but being sold as a used textbook -- so you don't have to use an old, yucky looking, used textbook.

First get the correct ISBN -- then check these textbook search engines...