How can I save on textbooks?


    With the continued increase in tuition and fees, the cost of attending college has become even more burdensome for many college students. In addition to the rise in tuition and fees, according to National Public Radio, the cost of college textbooks has doubled over the past decade. The tuition and fees are predetermined and fixed costs that students do not have control over. However, you do have control over the cost of textbooks and can reduce the textbook expense by shopping wisely.

Buying used textbooks is a great way to cut down on cost. Used textbooks are sold at discounts. The amount of the discount depends on where the textbooks are purchased. In general, the university or online bookstores offer smaller discounts compared to individual student sellers. Some used textbooks are in almost-new condition and some are a bit more worn. For those textbooks that are not in great condition, they often have notes in the margins and highlighted passages which are helpful for studying.

An alternative way to save on textbooks is to purchase electronic versions, also known as e-books. E-books are much more convenient for some students in comparison with hardcover or paperback books. With e-books, you are able to access the books from anywhere and don’t have to carry as much weight with them. In addition, with today’s technology, you can take notes and highlight passages on e-books with ease.

Last but not least, renting textbooks is another great option for you to reduce the textbook expense. Nowadays, more and more bookstores are offering textbook rental services. Both printed and electronic textbooks can be rented from the physical or online bookstores. Renting e-books is typically less expensive than renting printed textbooks. One important thing to keep in mind when renting printed textbooks is that the books must be in the same condition when they are returned. Otherwise, the bookstores will charge extra fees for damages to the books.


Written by: Cuihua Lin, Financial Wellness Peer Educator, University of Illinois Extension, 2017

Reviewed by Kathy Sweedler, Consumer Economics Educator, University of Illinois Extension.