10 Ways to Save $1,000 on Books in College

Textbooks in college can end up being a huge expense if you are not careful. They may be overpriced and you may have to have them in some classes, but there are many ways for you to circumvent the textbook industry’s traps. Some ideas for saving money on books include:

1. Buy Used Books

When purchasing a book online, check to see if there are any used copies on Amazon.com or Half.com. If you don’t mind the highlighting you can find used copies for large discounts.

2. Buy Old Editions

You’ll have to be careful here if you have to do homework or question sets out of the books, but if you are just going to be use it for reference look into buying an older version. This can usually be found for $5 or less.

3. Sell Books Directly to Other Students

Use the website or service most students at your school use to sell books to each other. At my school all of the students used one website to sell their textbooks to each other. Some schools may use Craig’s List. When you start at a school, ask around for what people use.

4. Share With Other Students

I always looked around the classroom on the first day of class or checked Facebook to see what classes my friends were in to see if I could share a book with them. Sharing worked out for me multiple times.

5. Make Sure You Need It

I had some classes in college where I didn’t need the textbook at all. While I didn’t ask the professor directly, since they would most likely say yes, figure out if you will need it for homework or not.

6. Look at the Syllabus First

If you just visit the book store before your classes start they will list optional books along with required reading. Make sure that you know whether or not you need the book before you buy it.

7. Check the Library for Copies

For my business classes that had 500 students in a section the business library had multiple copies of the textbook on hand. This is usually based on a request by the professor, but it kept me from spending hundreds of dollars on textbooks because I could just use it there.

8. Immediately Sell Your Books

Instead of partying right away after your last exam, immediately put your books up for sale if you don't want to keep them. At the end of the semester or beginning of the next are the two best times to try and sell books. You can do this either online on Half.com or Amazon or sell them to other students. Make sure you do this before a new edition comes out. If you wait just one semester to sell the books a new version may make your copy worthless.

9. Avoid School Bookstores

They have higher prices than you will find buying the books online or from other students. They also give you dismal returns on the books you sell back at the end of a semester.

10. International Versions

These versions can be cheaper and include all of the same information. They can be found online. Usually the only difference is that they are just in black and white and aren’t hardcover.

While you don’t want any of the above tips to hinder your grades or performance, I saved over a thousand dollars over four years using the above tactics.

Did you spend a lot on books in college? What would you have done differently? Let me know in the comments below.