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Cheap College Books – NOT at Campus Bookstore

cheap college books

College and graduate school classes are starting soon. Have you bought your books?

If not, don’t use the campus bookstore.

You can find cheap college books in many places, other than the single store your university is hoping you’ll use. Since you’re already living on a shoestring budget, you need to save money wherever possible. Buying used, cheap textbooks is a great way to cut your educational costs.

Cheap book websites

BookByte is my favorite used book website. They have a huge selection of books, and they even offer study guides and supplies. You could probably buy everything that you need in one visit to their site.

AbeBooks also boasts a large selection of books. They seem to cater a little more towards the rare book market. So if BookByte doesn’t have your book, you can probably get it from AbeBooks.

BetterWorld Books provides a great shopping option for the socially conscious consumer. They ship your books for free anywhere in the United States, and they offset the shipping environmental costs through CarbonFund. They also host book drives to provide books and funding for literacy programs. To date, they have donated over $4 million and 11 million books. Incredible!

Biblio is another book site, much like Bookbyte. They also have a good assortment of rare and out-of-print books.

Tips for used textbooks

You do need to be careful when buying used textbooks online. They’re cheap college books, but it’s not always easy to find the correct edition for your course. To ensure that you buy the best discount books, follow these tips.

Photo by limonada

Compile a list – You need a comprehensive list of all your required college textbooks. Some university bookstores have an online book list, but you may have to go to the campus bookstore. Write out your list with the course, professor, and books required. For the books, be sure to note the title, author, and edition.

Check it twice – Seriously. You need to make sure your list is accurate. You don’t want to buy a textbook for the wrong course.

Look for your books – When you’re shopping at a site like BookByte, you can search for books by ISBN, title, author, or even keyword. The ISBN is your most accurate locator, but a title / author search can usually work as well.

Verify the edition – For every book that you locate, double check the edition! I cannot stress that enough. If a book seller doesn’t list the edition, you can try to call to find out. But you can most likely find the same book somewhere else that does list the edition.

Ask your professor – If you found a really cheap book that is an older edition, you can always ask the professor if that edition will work. Most professors have taught their courses for years, and they know what changes have been made to the book editions. Some will say that an older edition is fine, and others will not. It never hurts to ask.

Sell your college books

When you’re done with a college textbook, you should consider selling it back to get some cash. You won’t recover everything you paid for it, but every bit helps.

cheap college books

I’ve written two comprehensive articles on selling used college books. Some of the same sites above (like BookByte) will buy your books back from you, no matter where you got them.

This is my basic tutorial that shows how easy it is to sell your books online.

If you want to take it to another level, check out my post on maximizing your textbook cash.

Top photo by fofurasfelinas

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9 Responses to “Cheap College Books – NOT at Campus Bookstore”

  1. Michael Henreckson
    August 11th, 2008

    A timely post with school season coming up. I’m going to look into Bookbyte. 🙂

  2. Stacy
    August 11th, 2008

    my little bro said he just spent like 800 bucks on college text books and i was surprised the price has gone up soo much since i was in school like ten years ago. the best technique i used to fo combat the costs of these was to find someone else in the class to split the books with. especially since we barely read them until exam time anyway

  3. Andrew Flusche
    August 11th, 2008

    @Michael – I hope you’re not disappointed with Bookbyte. Let us know how it goes for you!

    @Stacy – I can’t imagine a college student barely reading their books. 😉

  4. Brandon
    August 16th, 2008

    When selling your books back, be sure to try out BookScouter.com to compare prices from 30 different book-buying websites. The price that different sites are willing to pay will vary widely, so it certainly pays to shop around.