College textbooks are fucking expensive, and there's no nicer way of putting it. With new versions constantly coming out, it's sometimes hard to find a used copy on Amazon that won't arrive halfway through the semester. After spending multiple years avoiding buying books at all costs, by my senior year I had a full proof method to never having to spend more than 100 per quarter on books. And even in those situations, I always made sure the book got passed on to someone next quarter, cause karma and stuff.
Since most of you reading this are either broke or cheap, two things I definitely was while in college, here are my tips for never having to pay for college textbooks again.
Visit your campus library.While most libraries keep textbooks on reserve, meaning you cant check them out for more than a few hours at a time, novels usually go by different rules. If your course is asking you to buy a copy of a novel, chances are your library has a copy you are able to check out for weeks instead of hours. This is a great option if you are an English major who is faced with buying dozens of books every semester.
Rent books on reserve.This isn't an ideal situation, but great for courses where you won't be needing to use the book on a regular basis. We've all taken those classes where we only open the book before an exam, and we know which subjects we won't waste time reading the book as the class goes along. Pinpoint which courses only use the book partially and which you won't be reading regularly, and instead of purchasing the book take a few hours a week to go visit your library's copy.
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Swap textbooks with friends.If you live in any type of campus housing, this is your best option, especially if you're early in your undergraduate degree. The first two years of college consist of thousands of people taking the same prerequisite classes, which sets you up for the perfect book swapping situation. Round up a large group of people and see what books everyone has accumulated. You can choose to just swap for the semester or permanently, depending on how attached you are to the books you bought.
Search online for a free version.When my best friend told me she had been using free PDF versions of textbooks for years, I was 1)pissed she didn't tell me about this sooner and 2)shocked that was even an option. There's no real rhyme or reason to which textbooks you can find online for free, at least not that I've figured out. Usually the older versions are up online but if you're searching for something like a history textbook, chances are nothing more than the page numbers have changed. My recommendation is that you search the book title along with 'free pdf version' to find the best results.
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Scan someone else's copy.I'm not encouraging you to violate copyright law, or whatever those posters above all the printer/scanners on my campus say, I'm simply encouraging to get your reading done by any means necessary. Your campus will have a book on reserve, I've never heard of a college that doesn't. Instead of taking the book and reading it for those few hours it's yours, walk over to the scanner and make yourself a PDF copy. Emphasis on yourself! If you are jailed for selling an illegal PDF copy, that's on you, we were never here.
What's your best advice for saving money on college textbooks? Do you always buy used or try to get by without them at all?