How to get college textbooks for free (or nearly free)

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Higher education is getting more and more expensive, and the cost of college textbooks is no small part of that equation. But the concept of free college textbooks (or close to it) is not just a classroom daydream.

In this article, we’re going to go over several ways to get free or nearly free college textbooks.

We’ll also show you some sites that rent course books and even where you can sell them once the semester’s over.

Here are some ways to get college textbooks for free (or nearly free)

Things weren’t always this way: The price of college textbooks has risen more than 1,000% since the 1970s. One survey indicates that as many as 65% of college students are choosing not to pay for course books, potentially impacting their grades.

Before you spend any money on college or high school textbooks, you may want to see if you can find them for sale online. Textbook Nova is a site that locates textbooks strictly on Amazon. All you have to do is enter the title, keyword, author or ISBN.

Let’s start with the only thing better than cheap: Free. There are several resources you should know about that offer free college textbooks. Here are some of them.

How to get free college textbooks

Project Gutenberg

The Project Gutenberg initiative has nearly 50,000 electronic books available online. The textbook you need just might be there.

The library

Take a look inside your city library. If they don’t have the book you need, ask the librarian if they can find it among their network of library branches. There’s a good chance they can get it through the inter-library loan program. The beautiful part about this is that it will cost you absolutely nothing!

Ask for alternatives to buying the books

Many college teachers remember when they, too, were cash-strapped college kids. Ask if there is a free hard copy or online version of the textbook that you can use for the semester.

Where to get cheap college textbooks

Buy them used for a big discount

You can also find used college textbooks for sale on the internet for a steep discount. Here are some of the best sites to buy cheap college textbooks. Many of these sites also let you rent and sell your texbooks:


Where to rent used college textbooks

Some sites specialize only in renting college textbooks. They don’t offer ways to buy them but provide a platform for you to rent and return textbooks after you’re done. Some of the best sites include:

If you know of any other sites to get cheap college textbooks, let us know in the comments below.

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