The Ultimate Guide to Getting the Cheapest Textbooks (and how to sell your used ones!)

We’re almost to that time where we have to pour out money to buy those dreaded textbooks again. I think a lot of college students struggle with buying textbooks because of how expensive they can be, and how difficult it can be to find the best deal on them.

Or they just give in and don’t even try to get the best deal and purchase them all at their college’s bookstore extremely overpriced. (I feel you.) After doing that my first semester of college, I was determined to never spend that much money on books ever again.

The Ultimate Guide to Getting the Cheapest Textbooks: and how to sell your used ones! | College with Caitlyn

Compare prices

I’m not going to say to never buy books from your college bookstore because that would be bad advice. I’ve heard a lot of people give this advice to freshman and I don’t agree with it at all. I don’t agree with it because I actually got my three books for English this last semester cheaper at the bookstore than what I could have gotten at any other retailer. So while college bookstores typically highly overprice their books, it never hurts to check.

Related: Loans and Scholarships for Textbooks

This is when you might be asking, “Caitlyn, what other retailers could you possibly get textbooks from?”

There. Are. So. Many.

That’s why I like to use to compare prices. Slugbooks compares prices from Amazon, Abe Books, Valore Books, Chegg, and Campus Book Rentals. I’ve gotten books from every one of these except Campus Book Rentals, but since it’s on Slugbooks I’m pretty positive it’s a legit place to get books from.

Just be careful when getting books from Abe Books, because sometimes it will be the international edition, which is not the one you want! So just be sure to check in the book’s description!

I told one of my best friends about Slugbooks when she was complaining about how much her books for this last semester were going to cost (over $200) and she told me that she got them all for $53!! How amazing is that!?

Related: How to Save Money in College

Also, another good place to get books is Barnes and Noble. I rented one of my books from there this last semester!

Rent, Rent, Rent

You should almost never be buying books. I mean are you really going to ever need that Statistics book again? Didn’t think so. I mean I’m a math major and I know even I won’t need it again.

Just be careful where you’re renting from because most rental books don’t come with supplemental products like DVDs or other things your professor may want you to have.

Renting is also great because most places allow for moderate highlighting and notes to be taken in the book, and you can save so much money!! Then you also don’t have to worry about selling back your books at the end of the semester.

Selling Textbooks

However, if you did end up buying a book and would like to sell it back, I got you.

There are three options for selling books: you can try to sell them back to your school’s bookstore (if you got it there), but I’ve heard they don’t give too much, you could try to sell it to a friend who needs it, or you could sell it online at a site like

I used BookScouter after my first semester when I bought all my books. It was a super easy process and totally legitimate! Just enter the ISBN of your textbook that you want to sell, and all the places that would buy the book from you pop up and how much they would offer. Just a heads up: hardback books, new books, and popular topics books (like computer science and sciences) go for much more money than other textbooks.

Free books!?

There are two ways that I know of to get free books: get books from a friend or get books from a lending library.

I got one book from a friend of a friend for this last semester, and I’m so glad because we never even used the book. I’m not sure if every college has a lending library, but NKU does.

Related: How I Find My Perfect College

Basically, students will donate their old textbooks for the school to give away to students who need them in the future. I’ve never used it personally, mostly because I’m too lazy to go ask if they have any of the books I need. But considering how much textbooks are, it’s a great way to save money!!

I’ve also found free pdf versions of textbooks that I needed for classes. You can either do a simple pdf search or check out this list of websites to find free ebooks. There are over 179 different places to find free books!

Where do you get your textbooks from? Do you have any tips that I forgot to mention?? Let me know in the comments below!!!

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