CM to the Rescue: 15 Places to Get Cheap Textbooks

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Walking through the aisles of your college’s bookstore, it seems like each time you look at the price tag of a textbook, the price doubles. Each swipe of your debit card pokes a hole in your fragile bank account, leaving less money for food, rent and tuition. The worst part is that you know after a week or two, your professor will probably ditch the gold-plated textbook to focus on lectures and outside readings. A tear falls down your cheek as you wonder whose cruel idea it was to make textbooks so expensive. Now let’s cut the dramatics and dig your way out of this hole: Take a look at 15 ways to get a hold of textbooks without breaking the bank.


Chegg is probably one of the best textbook rental websites available. You can rent or buy used textbooks at cheap prices, and then return them for free at the end of the semester.

2. Share with Friends

Just like in preschool, sharing is caring. If you’re tight on cash but your biology book costs well into the hundreds, split the cost of the book with friends and share it. It’s a two in one deal; you’re buying a book and a built in study group.

3. Amazon Rentals

After taking advantage of Amazon Prime student rates, look up your textbook ISBN number to see if Amazon has your most expensive books available. Even though it’s tedious, it’s worth it to see which site has the cheapest prices. Think of the 10 extra bucks you saved on Amazon as extra cash to spend on your night out.

4. Hand-Me Downs

Just because you hated wearing your sister’s old sweater doesn’t mean you won’t love stealing her books. If you’re taking the same class as a friend a semester later, ask to borrow or buy the book from him. It’s a win-win: Your friend makes a quick buck and you save money.

5. Campus Bookstore Rentals

Before you call me a hypocrite, just hear me out. Campus bookstores have the option for students to rent books out for the semester or sell them back to the store. Florida International University junior Gabriela Ortega said, “It’s better to rent because sometimes the book buyback is a rip off. They don’t really buy your book for half the price, and you end up spending the same amount of money but with less of a hassle of finding someone who will buy it back at a better price than the bookstore.”


Going, going, sold to the highest bidder! Looking for cheap prices? Try bidding for a textbook on ebay. Auctioneers usually price their books pretty low so that the bids will slowly rise, but it’s unlikely that anyone will bid high on that brick of a bio textbook, and you’ll get the textbook for practically a steal.

 7. Social Media

Shout out to your friends on Facebook and Twitter to see if anyone has the book you need and what they want to part with it. If you’re worried about being annoying on social media, don’t be. If my aunt can ask for a good pediatric dentist, then you can ask your friends or followers for a textbook.

8. The Library

Did you know your university carries a copy of all of your textbooks? The early bird catches a worm at the library because the first person to snatch the library’s copy is the person who gets the book free of charge (unless you forget to renew the loan). If you’re out of luck at the campus library, try checking out another local library.

9. Thrift Stores

For all the English majors out there, local thrift stores and Goodwill are the perfect place to search for classic lit titles and poetry collections. While you won’t need more than the coins that fit in your piggy bank to pay for these books, be sure to arrive with hours to spare and patience as you sift through the piles of junk in hopes of finding treasure.


It’s exactly what it sounds like. Instead of searching through stacks of books, make a quick search on the website to find out if your class’s books are available. Spend a couple bucks on the novels you need for class, but be sure to avoid spending the money you saved on more books.


Campus Book Rentals is another site where you can rent your textbooks for almost half the retail price. They’re also chill about renters highlighting and writing in the book, so you can color code the text to your heart’s desire.


On the Valore Books’ website, you can buy or rent cheap textbooks from other students, and can also sell your old books as well. It might sound sketchy to trust random college students enough to go about the process correctly, but Valore Books thought of the solution: You can read the ratings of past buyers to see if the vendor is reliable.

13. Trade-Off

Do you and a friend have the same major? Take a note from Hammurabi’s code and take a book for a book. Florida State University  junior Henry Fallar said, “My roommate and I traded books. I gave him my chemistry book and he gave me his psych book. It was really nice not having to pay full price and we both got to benefit from the trade.”


Yet another website to rent your books from. It sounds tedious, but checking for each book on each site can really help you save a few bucks

15. Barnes and Noble

Surprisingly enough, the bookstore has more than novels. B&N has its own textbook rental program. It might not be Borders, but flexible rental periods and free return shipping aren’t too shabby.

Celina graduated from FSU with a B.A. in English. As College Magazine's Editorial Director, Celina always pushes her writers to become stronger journalists and create an in-depth guide to campus life. She can't go a day without her cafe con leche and you won't want to cross her the day she does.

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