5 Ways to Afford University Textbooks

Adulting, Money

By Faria Ahmed

If you’re going to university in North America, then you already know about the trauma that comes with buying those uber expensive textbooks. There you are enjoying the first week of class at the beginning of the semester, and then the professor uploads a list of the recommended textbooks. As if paying for university wasn’t bad enough, the added burden of buying textbooks costing $100-$700 can surely make your undergraduate years into an absolute nightmare. Have no fear though, because I am on the same boat as you and over the years I have figured out a few tricks to be able to afford textbooks:

  1. Second Hand Books: No matter where you are studying, chances are that your peers who are just a year senior to you have gone through the same courses as you. This means they might own the very same textbooks that they want off their hands now. Although it may be one or two editions different from the latest one, it might still be a good idea to ask around. You can check if a facebook group exists for used books exchange and selling. If not, you can always ask some friends and spread the word that you are looking for a particular book. \
  2. Try Online Stores: From my personal experiences, I have always found mainstream book stores and on-campus bookstores to be exceptionally expensive for textbooks. Sometimes I have purchased textbooks directly from the publisher’s website or from online stores like amazon.   
  3. Buy the Looseleaf version: In between the hard cover, paperback and e-book formats lies my precious choice of textbook- the looseleaf version. The perfect book arrives without being bound into an actual book. It actually already has the punch holes in it so all you need to do is get a binder and use that as your hardcover. This formar is cheaper than the hardcover ones and you also don’t end up straining your eyes too much by reading it on your computer. 
  4. Buying the kindle edition: If all else fails, I opt to buy the kindle edition of the book from amazon. Even if you don’t have an actual kindle device, you can actually read the book on your computer through an online kindle cloud reader. I personally use this as a last resort because the amazon cloud reader doesn’t let me print it off and it strains my eyes to read a whole book on the computer. I might actually opt to buy a kindle if all my future textbooks are in this format. 
  5. Rent or Borrow: There’s a couple of different ways to do this. You can borrow from your university’s library, but they usually don’t allow that for a whole semester. However, if you are lucky enough they might have multiple copies, so you can return one and get it on loan again the next day (if they haven’ run out). You can also rent from various websites including ebay. Although not the most reliable in my experience, this is still a much more affordable way to get your textbooks this school year. 

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