How To Avoid Your Next College Textbook Purchase: 3 Places To Look

A college textbook purchase can set you back hundreds of dollars. I have 3 great places to look for textbooks to avoid buying textbooks altogether. You may not know it, but you can often get textbooks for free. Learn these techniques for saving money in college, and use them over and over again.

My Experience with Free or Nearly Free Textbooks

I recently finished an MBA (no applause necessary ;), and those textbooks are not cheap! In one class, I had 3 textbooks – but I was able avoid buying 2 of them. I had to make some calls or send some emails, and in this specific case, I had to talk to the professor as well. But in the end, I avoided some expensive books. I’ll show you 3 ways below.

Strategy #1: Borrow and Beg

I know, it sounds crass, but we are talking about real money. Besides, it isn’t that hard to do. I just contacted a couple of friends I had in other classes, and I asked if they still had their textbooks. One did, and he let me borrow them for the semester.

Tip: Find a friend or several like this. This guy was a semester or two ahead of me, and took similar classes. We did have one class together where I took it before him in the program. Also, he loved to keep his books for reference for later. I didn’t keep mine, and he didn’t mind loaning his. I was always careful with his books, and I didn’t write in them. I just had to drive to his house to get them, and I avoided several college textbook purchases by maintaining the friendship.

One of the books was an article anthology – just a bunch of articles in one place. A new version had come out, so I had to ask the professor what articles we would be using, and compare that to my borrowed book. He said there were only a few new ones, and I found those online doing a search, or through a library database, like EBSCO Host. I had access as part of being a student, so it was free.

I took care of my friend’s books and returned them at the end of the term. And he lent me some more after that…

Nearly Free: Technically, I may have had to use some paper and toner to print a 10 or 20 page article. Not bad ;o)

Strategy #2: Ask the Professor

I had a book coming to me, but it hadn’t arrived yet – but you can use this to avoid your college textbook purchase altogether in some cases. Since mine was delayed, I asked the professor if I could borrow an old one of his for a couple of weeks. He said no problem.

You could also do this for the whole semester if it is an old book. In strategy 1 above, the professor let me use an old book the whole time. In this one, I could have extended the use for months just by asking. A good relationship can help here as well.

Also, the book I used wasn’t the one he was using for class, but an extra. I got along well with him, and you should remember that. If you haven’t got any influence in a class of hundreds, this probably won’t work. If you have had the teacher before and he knows you, you may have a better chance.

Strategy #3: The Study Lab

When I took an economics class as an undergrad, we had a lab to go to study for the class. A teaching assistant was there to answer any questions, with his own book. The lab had some great hours, but was often unoccupied.

Simply go to the lab and use the book and ask questions, just like you should as an interested student. Let the lab assistant help you, and use their book while in the lab.

Bonus: your finished your assignment, and you avoided a college textbook purchase – but be sure your class actually has a study lab, a TA, and a book before you try this one. Borrowing is even cheaper than a used textbook sale.

Visit the Cheap Textbook Hub

If you haven’t read all the strategies on the Beat-Tuition Cheap Textbook Hub you should check it out. Dozens of ideas like these for keeping your textbooks cheap.

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