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7 Ways to Find Used Textbooks for Gen-Ed Courses

used textbooks

It’s no secret that college is ridiculously expensive. 

Between tuition, room and board, and other various expenses, it can all add up. Textbooks are one of the most essential items students need, as they are the foundation of their learning. 

Textbooks are also one of the largest costs for a student. College Board estimates that students spend more than $1,200 a year on textbooks alone. 

General education courses tend to have the largest textbook requirements since they are the entry-level courses most students need to take.

Though the requirements may vary depending on where you are attending, one thing is common across all general education courses: Their textbooks are severely overpriced.

If you are a current or soon-to-be student, here are the 7 ways to find used textbooks for your general education classes. Your wallet will thank you. 

1. Rent Your Books

Renting is a great way to get cheap textbooks. Renting allows you to keep the book for the semester and then return it once you have completed your course. 

The price of new textbooks has grown over 135% since 2001. This increase in cost can be a painful pill to swallow. However, when you rent textbooks, you can be paying half or even a quarter of the full price of the book. 

Additionally, when you rent a textbook, you don’t have to worry about reselling it or it becoming worthless once your course is completed. You simply just ship the book back where you rented it from and forget about it.  

Most rented textbooks are also used, which allows them to be less expensive than renting or buying a new textbook. 

With renting, you eliminate the dead weight that new textbooks can bring to your college experience. 

2. Compare Prices and Shop Smart

Finding used textbooks can hone your haggling skills. 

Since prices can vary depending on the website, manufacturing, edition, etc it’s helpful to bring together various prices from multiple sources and find the best deals. 

Some websites even offer coupons that give you a larger discount on top of the discount you get from renting. Comparing prices also gives you the tools to not overpay for textbooks. Using your resources can help you find the best deal possible. 

Comparing prices is a sure-fire way to not overpay for your textbooks. With comparison pricing tools, you can make sure you are getting a good deal on used textbooks. 

3. Look at Various Editions

Textbooks can be republished every year. When this happens, their edition changes. The majority of the time, this change is not crucial to the course you are taking. 

Looking at previous editions or even international editions can be beneficial, as they are usually heavily discounted since they are seen as older. 

Depending on your courses, if you taking an American History class, it’s unlikely that the newer edition will be substantially different than the previous one. Communicate with your professor to make sure that you have the right tools 

Additionally, with international editions, they tend to be cheaper since they are usually paperback and are printed in black and white. 

4. Sell Your Old Textbooks or Swap with Students

If you had to buy a textbook for whatever reason and now it’s collecting dust, try selling it. There are many ways to sell your old textbooks whether it’s to businesses or even other students. 

If you need a textbook that someone else needs or vice versa, you can always make a trade and collect a small profit. Connect with your fellow students on campus and see what books they have available. 

Most likely, there will be someone who has the book you need and needs the book you have. 

5. Sharing is Caring

Sharing your textbooks is a great way to be cost-effective. Depending on your general education class, you may be able to share your textbook with a friend. This can benefit you both since you can split the price of a used book an get an even cheaper discount. 

6. Go Digital

Digital textbooks are extremely popular now due to the rise of technology in the classroom. This applies to textbooks as well. 

You can purchase and download digital textbooks for a fraction of the cost of buying new. These digital copies are helpful if you are already used to using a computer while in class. 

Additionally, most websites that sell new and used textbooks sell digital copies as well. This way, you aren’t having to search far and wide for the right access code. You can also neatly save these textbooks on your computer instead of lugging them around in your backpack. 

7. Use Your Resources to Find Used Textbooks

It’s easy to get overwhelmed while you’re in school. Finding textbooks can be stress you do not want to take on. Using your resources to find the right solutions can be extremely beneficial to you in the long run. 

This means research, chatting with fellow students, contacting your professors. When you use your resources, you can have a better idea of price and budgeting. 

With Great Knowledge, Comes Great Responsibility 

Now that you have the knowledge you need, go forward and prosper. 

Finding used textbooks does not have to be a scavenger hunt. When you implement these tips, you will surely be able to find cheaper textbooks. Long gone are the days of spending $250 on an economics textbook. 

With renting, comparing, sharing, research, and going digital you have so many options to shop smarter and not harder. 

Check out our blog for more information regarding college tips. 

About the Author

Christopher Manns

I was born in the UK, grew up in Canada and have lived in the USA since the 90s. I love my family, water sports, ice hockey, skiing and soccer. When I'm not helping people save money on textbooks, I'm travelling with my wonderful family and playing sports.