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5 Ways To Get Your Textbooks Free

One thing that is always a struggle for college students is the cost buying textbooks.

Every semester it seems like you go through the motions of buying $400 worth of textbooks, only to sell them back for a lousy $40 at the end of the semester.

It doesn't have to be this way, however. In fact, it's possible to get college textbooks for free.

Often, it will be tough to get the books 100% free, but with just a little bit of work, it's possible to save hundreds of dollars every semester and even get free textbooks.

1. Cut the campus bookstore out of the equation entirely.

The bookstore has the highest margins of any vendor, and it's not because they are greedy. They actually have far more overhead than the online vendors do.

Unfortunately for you, this translates to the highest prices of all vendors.

Their buyback system is just as bad.

Because they only manage such a small physical stock of books, they will offer what seems like a pittance for that high priced textbook you bought, not more than 5 months ago.

Many students are so insulted by the offers they are given by the bookstore, that they just keep the textbook out of spite!

2. Take it digital.

Most of the classics (think Shakespeare and Plato) are free to download as e-books from Project Gutenberg.

Downloading e-books digitally knocks out most liberal arts classes, like philosophy and English lit.

3. Sell your books back online.

If you must buy your textbooks at the beginning of the semester, make sure you are getting the best deal at the semester end buy back.

While the campus bookstore will give you money for your textbooks, there are many online vendors that will do the same.

Selling it online can usually net you far more money than the campus bookstore.

4. Gauge the class to see if you really need to buy the textbook at all.

Believe it or not, many students get away with simply not buying the required textbooks at all. The reason for this is that many professors just use the textbook as a supplementary guide.

The trick is to make sure that there isn't any work to be done directly out of the textbook later in the semester.

By waiting a few weeks into the semester, and finding out if the textbook is really necessary, students can save tons of beer money on the textbooks they don't buy.

5. Use the campus library.

Nearly all university libraries have the required textbooks, just waiting to be borrowed by students.

This tip can be combined with the previous one if you know you'll only need the textbook for a week or so during the semester.

It can get a little dicey if the textbook is in high demand, however, so plan ahead if you intend to use this method.


EVERY book has an ISBN (International Standard Book Number). It's a 10 or 13-digit code, usually on the back of the book, near the bar code.

isbn on textbook
Don't have the book handy? Amazon.com displays ISBNs right above customer reviews!


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