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Guides » Back to School

Beat the Cost of Books

It’s payback time for those overpriced textbooks.


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The expense of education rises every year, and the cost of books skyrockets right along with your tuition dollars. Instead of fueling the corporate publishing companies that seem to come out with a “new” edition every semester, consider other ways of beating those textbook mobsters.

Nowadays, Websites offer cheap and alternative ways to get textbooks, and more and more bookstores offering college texts are beginning to pop up. And, if you’re a campus dweller whose second home is the library, your best bet is the reserve counter. Most professors put their required textbooks on reserve, giving you an opportunity to get the reading done before class without paying the cost of the book.

Interlibrary Loan is another resource provided by most universities; this system allows you to search outside the school’s library at other universities and colleges for articles, books, etc.—for free! It’s a great resource for big research projects— just be sure to submit your request well in advance, as it could take up to four weeks to receive your material.

You’ll make Ma proud for being so financially smart, plus you may be able to pay off those students loans in your lifetime.

Everyone knows the Internet is the best way to bargain for books, but not all Websites that advertise “cheap” books are worth the time or money. Here are a few tried-and-trues:

Also, if you need a quick reference or answer, and can be helpful. Both are best for literature inquiries, but they also provide useful study guides for a variety of other subjects.

Library Reserve Contacts
Library reserves offer one of the best ways to conserve your tuition dollars. However, relying on reserve texts can be chancy if others in the class are also using them. One strategy is to check the book out two hours before the library closes so you can take the book home and return it in the morning. Particularly for the science and medical students who often pay the most for textbooks, the reserve counter can get you through college without accruing more debt.

Although you occasionally may have to succumb and buy your textbooks from the campus bookstore, you never know what you might save by searching for that anthology or biology book at one of these stores first.