SC Johnson Family Economics Blog
Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Six Ways to Save on Purchasing College Textbooks | Family Economics

By Trisha

With three kids in college my book-buying bill throughout the year seems to increase with each quarter or semester of classes. Teaching my kids that there are alternative ways to buy books has been a goal and process and has led me to discover six ways to save when purchasing college textbooks:

•    Book Rental: By renting textbooks you avoid the risk of your books losing value by the end of the quarter or semester. You will save an average of 50 percent by renting and it will often include free shipping. There are several book rental websites to choose from such as:,,, and

•    Buy Used: Students can now find used books to purchase beyond their local campus bookstore. There are many online opportunities to purchase used books such as:,,, and

•    Download: With the growing popularity of e-readers, students can now purchase and download many of their required books. One company I discovered offers downloadable portions of textbooks. It’s called and I encourage my kids to consider this option.

•    Free Books: There are many virtual libraries that offer free reference material and literature at no cost to students. Typically these are older pieces with expired copyrights, but it is worth a try. Places such as, and, all offer free online books for college students.

•    Compare Prices: Before you buy, be sure to compare prices. You should seldom have to pay full retail price. is a helpful site to compare prices.

•    Share and Swap: Students should check with fellow classmates who have already taken the class or will be taking it at the same time. If they are willing to share the book-buying expense or if they no longer need their book and are willing to trade for another book they need. Many colleges are now even offering book-swapping events.

Have you discovered a way to save money when buying college textbooks? Please share!

1 Comment so far

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On Thursday, March 21, 2013, Sharon from Richmond wrote

Great article . . . Another excellent online resource for renting textbooks is, my daughter likes them and has saved hundreds of dollars this past semester


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