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Should You Buy From a Used Textbook Store? What Students Need to Know About Buying Used Books For College

used textbook store

College students spend an average of $1,200 per year just on textbooks and other course materials. The prices of school books have soared and it’s common for students to skip buying the required books for a course because of how much it would cost. Don’t fret though. There is help for you if you go to a used textbook store.

Many students can’t afford to spend money on full-priced books every semester. Luckily, used textbooks are an alternative option.

Continue reading to learn why you should go to a used textbook store.

Reasons to Choose a Used Textbook Store

It’s easy to go to your college campus’s bookstore and purchase your textbooks. You can also get them online. However, there are various reasons why it’s worth buying used school books.

1. Cheaper

The most obvious reason to get used textbooks is that they’re cheaper than new ones. You could save much more than 50% on used books. For example, a book on an online bookstore costs $102 if you buy a brand new copy.

At, you can buy a used copy for just $35.92. That saves you $66. If you repeat this process with every book you need for the semester, the savings add up.

You can easily keep over a hundred dollars in your pockets from purchasing used books.

Buying may seem like it’s more expensive than renting. In many cases, it’s more costly to rent a book than get it used.

2. Search for the Lowest Prices

You may find a used book and be disappointed after comparing it with the price of the new copy. Some websites that sell used books might not have the lowest prices.

This could be for all of their books or only some. It depends on what’s available in the marketplace.

Don’t give up if the price isn’t as low as you were hoping. There are plenty of websites to check out. Compare the costs of the book until you find the lowest amount.

3. Try a Brick-and-Mortar Store

Buying online is convenient, but shipping prices bump up the total cost of your used books. It could also take weeks to get to you. This isn’t helpful if you get your list of course books late in the summer.

Skip the full-priced books at Barnes&Noble and research similar stores near you. Many of these small businesses sell both new and used books.

You’ll get your used books without worrying about when they’ll arrive at your door. You don’t need to pay for shipping. Another advantage is you can see firsthand the condition of the books.

4. Highlighting

Think of highlighting as a gift from the previous owner. It’s likely they highlighted important passages and concepts that you’ll also learn about. This makes studying easier for you!

As long as there aren’t severe markups, highlighting is your friend.

The previous owner may have even written notes in the margin to break down difficult concepts.

5. Don’t Be Scared of the Condition

While it’s true that new books are always in amazing condition, this doesn’t mean used books are dirty and ripped up. A website that sells used books will have what condition the copy is in. They usually also include a description.

Many used books that are in good condition have some highlighting, notes, and creases from being used. The book is still perfectly readable. A lot of books in fair condition are very similar to those in good condition.

Books in fair condition are cheaper than ones in better condition. If you don’t mind some more creasing and notes, you can save even more money!

6. Sell Back

You can actually get money back from buying used textbooks. A good number of used book websites will purchase books from you.

After the semester is over, get rid of your school books by selling them back to the site you got them from. You won’t get all of your money back, but it’s better than nothing. In addition, this subtracts from the total amount you spent on your course books. offers a Sell Back comparison. Sell back prices from different sites are compared to give you the most money for your book.

Tips on Buying Used Textbooks

Some professors want you to have a specific edition of a book. When searching for a used book, double-check the ISBN number on the website. Make sure it matches the book you’re supposed to get.

If you don’t have the ISBN number and only know the edition, ask your professor for it. You could end up purchasing the wrong edition.

Always make sure to check the condition and description of used books. For example, maybe you prefer a book without highlighting. A book in good condition may still have some highlighting.

Contact the website if there isn’t enough information or choose another copy.

There are courses that require books with extra content, such as a DVD, CD, or online access code. Many used books don’t come with these.

Ask your professor if you need any of these. If you do, only buy a used book when you’re positive it has the extra content.

A lot of professors understand the struggle of purchasing course materials. They may let you use an older edition of a book.

Older editions are often very similar to newer ones as long as they’re not far apart. You wouldn’t buy the first edition if your professor asked for the tenth edition. You could probably get away with the ninth or even eighth edition.

The reason to get an older edition is simple. The longer the book has been circulating, the cheaper it is. Sometimes an edition or two older costs half of the newest edition.

Save Money and Buy Used Books

College students don’t need to fear their list of course materials. They can save so much money from buying used books.

It’s easy to find ones that are as good as new. Notes and highlighted passages from previous owners can help you study.

Save money and buy from a used textbook store.

Feel free to try our used textbook price comparison so you can shop all the used textbook stores at once.

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.