Textbook Alternatives: Less Books, Less Stress

Ginny Campbell, Writer

It feels like every semester, the major question is how much am I spending on textbooks this time? If you buy new textbooks from the bookstore, the answer is probably several hundred dollars.

However, there are ways around spending all your money. The first option is to rent your books. Personally, I  rent my textbooks from Chegg and Amazon.com. Their prices are usually lower than anywhere else. You can even compare prices through several comparison sites, such as  Textsurf, BIGWORDS, and Bookfinder.  There are some downsides to renting though, the book might be already marked in and you might run the risk of getting charged if you damage it.  

Yet, a safer alternative to renting your books is buying your books with a friend and agreeing to share it for the semester. You could achieve this by switching  books between classes and or sitting next to each other.  Currently, I’m  doing this with my Spanish book, and it requires communication between the people using the book. Yet it also gives you an instant study buddy if you need it. Sharing your book with a friend also allows you to scan important pages out of the book and put them in a binder, giving you instant access when the other student has possession of book.

Another option is using the resource of the library at your fingertips. A lot of professors leave their textbooks on reserve in the library and with this option you don’t have to buy or rent the textbook  as it is completely free. You just go in, ask for the book and you can use it for up to two hours. Utilizing those textbooks on reserve through your professor, is a really great hassle-free option and it saves you a lot of money. The only downside is you can only use it for two hours a day. However, a lot of textbooks you will need for class can be obtained by using an Interlibrary Loan. Interlibrary Loans allow you to borrow the book you need from a network of libraries all over and you can get your textbook free of charge for up to two weeks from there with multiple renewals. It is a real quick turn around and the book usually  arrives in a couple of days.

The last alternative is buying an earlier edition or an international edition of the book you need. These are a lot cheaper, and normally not that much has changed from book to book. Often times, textbooks just change a few sentences and or move chapters around and then call it a new edition, so that they can charge you more money. This isn’t always true though. That’s the downside to this option.

Anyways, there are a plethora of money saving options out there. For example, renting to buying  older editions, where obtaining  textbooks don’t have to completely empty your pocketbook. You can save a lot of money by just taking the time to look at your other options.