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7 Helpful Tips for Finding Textbooks

By Brittany Loeffler

One of the biggest expenses students feel is finding textbooks. Depending on your major, you can be spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars each semester on your textbooks. There are ways to students can save money when finding textbooks.

With these seven helpful tips, you’ll be able to be smart about finding textbooks and keep some extra cash in your wallet


Be Prepared

Nobody wants summer vacation to end. Students may put off looking at their class syllabus until the night before the semester starts and are left scrambling finding textbooks. Review your syllabus as you receive it and look over the books you’ll need.

If you decide you want to buy these textbooks, beat the crowds and order them early. High demand and low supply means an increased price. You don’t want to be left waiting for the textbooks to be restocked if they sell out before you get a chance to order them.

Grab ISBN Numbers

An ISBN number is the number under the barcode on the back of a book. It identifies that specific title and edition. When you go to search for the best deals on your textbooks, it’s easiest to input the ISBN number because it ensures you are looking at the correct edition.

Stop by the campus bookstore to grab the ISBN numbers if your professor doesn’t provide you with them on the syllabus. This will also give you a chance to check out the bookstore’s prices.

Buy Used Textbooks

Used textbooks can be much cheaper than buying a brand new textbook. Search websites where people can sell things such as Amazon or eBay. Take a trip to your local used bookstore and browse through their selection to find the textbooks you need. Try going to a used bookstore close to your campus. They are more likely to have the book than a used bookstore in your hometown.

Rent Your Textbooks

Reduce the clutter in your home and save money by renting your textbooks. At the beginning of the semester, order your textbook and use it. Then, at the end of the semester, you can return it! It’s as easy as renting a movie.

Typically, renting your textbooks is much cheaper than buying used textbooks. However, if you are taking a core class where you know you will refer back to the textbook throughout college, it may be worth it to buy the book.

Buy Textbooks from Friends and Classmates

College students are always looking to make some money. At the end or beginning of the semester, students will often try to sell their textbooks to other students. This can save you a bunch of money, especially if the student just wants to make a quick dollar and get the book off their hands.

Search Facebook groups for used textbooks. Ask friends who have taken the class in previous semesters if they would sell you their old textbook.


We are officially in the future! If you have a Kindle or Nook, you have the advantage of buying or renting textbooks electronically. This is usually a cheaper way to read and find textbooks.

Not only is it a more economical option, but it also saves you from lugging around heavy textbooks all day. They all fit on a small compact device that fits nicely in your backpack.

You can also write and highlight the text without damaging the book or being charged when you rent it, making it easier to study and pass your classes.

Download Free Books

When a book is in print for a certain amount of years, it will become available free to download online. This is a great resource if you are an English major or taking a literature class where you are reading classics like Dickens or Shelley. A quick Google or Amazon search will tell you if the text is free to download.

Check the Library

The library is a great free resource to use when it comes to finding textbooks. Check your campus library or local library for your textbooks. You’ll want to get there early and beat the crowds, though. Libraries only carry a couple of copies of books.

Sell Your Textbooks

Make some money back on the textbooks you decided to buy. Sell them to your friends or classmates over social media or just in your network. Let your professor know that you will be selling the textbook and ask them to let their future students know it is available. This can significantly cut down the cost on the books you have to buy for the upcoming semester.

By following these helpful tips, you won’t have a problem finding textbooks for decent prices. You’ll be able to save some money and maybe some space if you follow these tips.