The Complete Guide To Saving Money On College Textbooks

Buying your textbooks from the school library can get pretty expensive. I've even seen one textbook run upwards of 500$. These days, post-secondary education is expensive so you'll want to save on anything you can. Today I'm sharing the Complete Guide saving money on College textbooks. 


My first tip is a little counterintuitive to my early bird way of thinking: wait until school starts before purchasing your textbooks. I know, sounds so unlike me right? Stay with me, there is a completely logical and strategic reason why which I'll get to a bit later on. Be quick, because you don't want them sold out; but not too quick, because you'll miss out on all the options available to you. We are so fortunate in this day and age where there are so many options for purchasing textbooks. Take a look at the options around you to map out the game field before purchasing anything. Let me name the ways. 

  • New Books
  • Used Books
  • Rent Books
  • Electronic Books
  • Rent Electronic Books


Now that we know the types of books available, let's look at the options for buying. Of course, there is your college or university bookstore (which if you didn't know often has the most expensive buy), you can rent at the library (if you don't mind studying on campus as you typically have a time limit on those). If all else, you can also check Amazon for new, used, digital and renting buying options.  For Apple users, give the iBooks catalog for other digital, and interactive textbooks.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, there are so many other options available. 

Slug books


Slugbooks is a super handy website that allows you to compare textbook prices from just about every store. Enter in the ISBN/Title of the book and your school, and Slugbooks organizes all the prices for you. From your specific school to Amazon and other popular textbook websites. It categorizes them by buy/rent rates so you can rest assured you're getting the best price for your books without having to search every inch of the web to find it. Even more, Slugbooks helps you sell textbooks that you've already purchased which will help you make a little cash towards next year's books. 



Chegg is an online platform that makes it easy for students to buy & rent textbooks. This became one of my best friends during college as I have even saved 90% on some textbooks I've had to purchase. Simply enter the book name or ISBN number and search all your books. There is also free shipping for orders over 50$ you'll if you get multiple books from there you'll be saving tons. If you're renting the books are typically 60-90% off, Chegg will include the return label fee in the cost. It gives you a date to return, just tape the printable to the box and send out before the return date.

They also offer tools to help you study and learn like their Math Problem Solutions that allow you to enter in your problem and it helps you solve it, with comprehensible explanations for each step. Definitely, a lifesaver when you're studying at home. They feature other subject helpers that you can check out on their website!

open textbook library


Open Textbook Library is a platform that allows you to download textbooks for free or print at a low cost in a way that is easy and accessible to every student. The books are reviewed by a variety of colleges and universities to ensure their accuracy. You may not find every textbook on here but it's worth checking out!



Printed copies of textbooks are often much more expensive than an online version as well... they have to be printed. You can knock off a significant cost by simply opting for a digital copy of the book. I have personally gotten both and do see a difference between reading from a page and highlighting, note writing and so on. Honestly, there is nothing like holding the real deal in your hands. However, when you're on a budget an EPUB, PDF, or Kindle version of the textbook can really save you a lot of cash. You can still write the notes you want in the margins and highlight all over the pages if you want.

If you're still not sold on the digital copy of your textbook, opt for an unbound pint out. These textbooks come in loose leaf with standard binder holes for you to insert in a binder that you can pick up at the Dollar Store if you want. It's still much cheaper than a hard copy of the book, at a fraction of the price. 


Remember when I told you to wait a bit before purchasing your textbooks? New versions of textbooks come out every year for one purpose alone: to make money. If you haven't heard it by now, let me be the one to let you in on the details. Colleges and Universities are mega money-making corporations. Their ultimate goal is to generate more money, that is what Alumni's, sponsors, publicized research and even textbooks are for. 

New textbook versions are released every year to entice students to purchase the most up-to-date copy. In some cases, this might be necessary for a specific class, but it is still very unlikely that in 365 days 100% of the textbooks, words, pictures, concepts will change. It is more likely that the new version has a few minor changes like a picture that has been swapped for a more relatable one, or a few sentences have been re-worded. In most cases, you can get away with the discounted older version of the book. Always ask your professor if the most recent version is absolutely necessary for the class. If not, pick up an older version at half the price. 


Google has a lot of hotkeys and secret functions. One of my favourites functions is the "PDF" search. You can search Google specifically for a PDF version of your textbook by simply type in "PDF" at the end of your search and Google with pull up a PDF file of the textbook or article you're looking for. If it's on the web, Google will find it. Trust me, I once searched for a $395 CAD textbook and found a new edition PDF version of the book online. 100% off is a sale I'll take any day!