Do you know, you don’t have to pay $200 for those books? When I found out, I wanted to slap myself. 

There’s this painful epiphany when you realize something you wish you had known a long time ago; especially when it involves saving money. That was how I felt when I realized I had spent unnecessary amounts of money on books. I felt like slapping myself. Instead of doing that, I decided no other person should go through what I experienced.

College students can save a lot of money on books.

Here are 10 easy ways to achieve that. 

1.) Rent Books

You can cut up to 90% of the original cost price by doing this. Renting is great when it’s an elective course, you won’t need it in the future and when the book is very expensive. If you want to own the book at the end of the semester, you have the whole semester to gather the balance and pay up. There are so many companies that offer rentals. I love using CheggValore, and Skyo . For more rental companies, Google is your friend. 

2) Share Books

If your roommate or friend is taking the same class as you, you don’t need to buy two books. This is good for light-credit-load subjects, electives, small textbooks, or recommended (not required) books. If you also have a reading group or reading partners, you can agree and get a few books for the whole group. Sharing books is not good for core subjects, big textbooks, or heavy-credit-load subjects. 

3) Used Books

Except you have unlimited money or a pet peeve for used books or the book just came out (i.e. Review books or exam prep books or new book/author), I don’t know why you should buy a brand new book. They are unnecessarily expensive. Used books are good for those core subjects, books you want to own for a long time, or books that you need to take a standardized test like MCAT, PCAT, DAT, etc. Used books could be overly marked up or worn out, always read the seller’s description carefully. If you buy from a company (Amazon, eBay, Chegg, Valore, etc.), you can return the book if it didn’t meet your expectation. 

4) Sell Books

You don’t have to haul books around when you don’t need them. It might not fetch you a lot of money, but you can sell your books at the end of the semester or school year and get some change. You can sell back to a bookstore, or sell online.

5) Electronic Books (E-Books) 

I have found that some books are available for free online or are cheaper in electronic versions. It is important to search online for your books FIRST and compare the prices of hard copies with E-copies. E-books are good when you want to own the book. You could also rent E-books and save MORE! 

6) Old Editions

Authors and publishers like to make money and I completely understand. However, people like us like to save money. So, we meet each other halfway. Some new editions barely have a significant difference from the older editions of the same textbook. When you can, get an old edition and save money. Confirm with your instructor first and/or compare both editions carefully. The most common differences between editions are different page numbers and missing chapters; both of which you can rectify by borrowing a friend’s/colleague’s book. However, it’s not wise to buy an edition that is more than two editions older than the latest. 

7) Borrow Books

Can you believe you can borrow books for little to nothing? You can borrow from a library, a group, an organization, etc. Always check if your school library or a  neighboring library has the textbook you need before you consider buying. Talk to the people in charge of student retention or tutoring, they know organizations that lend books. The same rules for renting/sharing books apply here. 

8) Alternative Books

When the book is too expensive and everything else fails, you can talk to your instructor about alternative books. These are textbooks that will give you the same material or content you need but were written by another author(s) and are cheaper. There are some classes that you might not even need the textbook (Talk to your instructor).

9) Exchange  Books

There is a very old way of exchange called ‘trade-by-barter’. I remember learning about it in my History class not knowing it can be applied to modern times. As students, we take classes with so many people and we don’t take advantage of those opportunities. Exchanging books involves giving someone a book you have for a book you need from them, thereby saving you both money. For example, if you took a Physics course last semester and you need to take a Biology course this semester, but you know someone who took a Biology course last semester and wants to take a Physics course this semester, you can both EXCHANGE!!!! This method is good when you don’t want to lose a book, you feel you might need in the future. You can’t do this if you don’t get to know your classmates and network with other college students. 

10) Give Books

You are probably thinking: “is Winnie CRAZY? How can giving books save me money?”  No, I’m not crazy. Giving opens doors for receiving; it’s a basic life principle. You can keep one or more of your books and give them to people who need them, or donate them to an organization. You will be helping another student save money. 

I hope you learned a few things. Don’t forget to share. Make sure nobody else makes my mistake.

Did I miss something? What tips do you have?

Make it a Winning-Day

3 Responses

  1. Great read Winnie! Also, check cheap websites. I bought a $300 book from for $0.75, shipping cost $2 lol

  2. Thanks Dee. That's an AMAZING deal: from $300 to $0.75. I'll definitely keep an eye on that site.

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