How to Save $1000+ on TextBooks

Mark Mikelat, college motivational speakerHow to Save $1000+ on Textbooks

by Mark Mikelat, president of Building Aspirations

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I have been teaching college classes for years. And, ouch, textbooks are expensive! Some of these books cost $100 – $150 each and some students might have multiple books per class and have five or more classes. It is crazy! I want to help you and the college students in your life with the craziness. Here are some great tips to save $1000+ on college textbooks.

Do not blame the instructor

As a college instructor, I must take just a moment to address this. Often students blame us for the cost of the books. We sometimes have no say in the choice of the books. The college dean or even some state agency might require that we use a specific textbook even if a higher quality one is available at a lower cost. Please realize that the college instructors feel your pain. We cannot eliminate it, but we can mitigate it with tools, like this article.

Do not ignore required readings

Secondly, please do not, just not buy the book, if it is too expensive. I have had countless students just not buy required books, and often times they failed. Attending lectures and taking good notes are important, but we would not list a book as required if we did not truly think that it was critical for the class.

Buy a used book

This is by far the most common way to save money. I will give you the basics and also a more advanced, super secret tip. You can use the ISBN number of the book to search for used copies online. Most instructors will provide you the book number, or ISBN, on the syllabus. The most common place for research is I encourage you also check Ebay, and perhaps even Craigslist. But, there is also an advanced play. Do this research on different country versions of For example, check, the Canadian version of the website.

Tap into and encourage books on reserve

Ask your instructor to put a textbook on reserve in the library. Sometimes instructors get sample copies of textbooks from the publishers. They can put one on reserve in the library. This means that students can check it out for individual use. Some colleges support this and some do not, so just check. A good number of instructors do not even know that they can do this at their institution. Ask them if they can.

Get a book scholarship

There really is money just sitting for you to take, and I strongly encourage you to call the scholarship office at your school and ask about book scholarships. I have recommended this in every college course that I have taught and every single time a student gets a scholarship. You will likely need to fill out an online application. Just do it. It will take fifteen minutes.

Buy your textbook directly from a student

If you buy books directly from a student, you can cut out the middle man. Imagine that you have Accounting 102 next semester and you have a friend in Accounting 102 this semester. If you buy their books directly from them, you can save money. Let us say that they spent $200 on the required books. If they sell them back to the bookstore, the student might get $80 and then the bookstore might resell these used books for $150. You could buy them directly from the student for $90, saving you $60. The student will earn more money, and they do not need to wait in a book store line to sell back the books. Everybody wins, except of course, the book store.

Share a book

You could also share a book during a class. Although this could be a good option for you, please realize that you really need to work with somebody who is very responsible. If this is a physical book, you will need to swap it back and forth. If this is an electronic book, you will need to share login ids. Make sure that there are no unique restrictions, like only being able to login from a specific device. You should only do this with somebody whom you trust, who is easy to communicate with and has good time management. Make sure that you figure out in advance how to deal with this before quizzes and tests. You do not want to share the book with a book hoarder.

Rent a book

You can also rent a book. This means that you only get to use it for the rental period. It could be as short of 90 days. If this is a physical book, you will need to send it back. If this is an online book, your login will simply expire. Do some research online to find textbook rental outlets. A popular one is

Buy specific chapters of the book

Also, you have the option to only buy or rent specific chapters of a book. This was much more popular a few years ago, but there are still companies that support this for the more common and widely used textbooks. A dominate player in this area is


I want you to save money buying your books, but, sorry, you need to read them. If you go through all of this trouble and do not read the books, what is the point? I want you to be more successful in college, and I do not want the huge burden of high textbook costs to be an obstacle to your success. Good luck.

If you found this valuable, please share this with your college clubs, friends, staff, or anybody else who might benefit. Just click on one of the social share buttons to share this with the world. And, if you have other great ideas to pass along, please feel encouraged to share with tip via a comment.

How I can help college students more…

If you are a college educator, college administrator, or student leader I would love to visit your campus as a motivational speaker. Let us start a conversation about how I can bring a powerful message of success in life and work to your campus. Click here to learn more about how you can have your college hire me as a motivational speaker.

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