So you managed to find a way to pay your tuition (which rises by the minute) and cover your room and board for the next term. You’re in the clear, and it’s time for a nice night on the town with your leftover cash, right?

Nope. Because you forgot about those over-priced tomes that have been so cleverly inserted into your college experience. I speak of the college textbooks that your instructors decided to include in their courses. They cost a lot, and, if you don’t find a way to trim down the cost of these books, your nights on the town for the next several months may be in jeopardy.

Now, we don’t recommend not buying the books you need–that will only result in you being clueless and getting poor grades. Rather, we will point you to the gaps in the system. To assist you in rescuing your fun budget, here are five tips for saving some sweet moola on your college textbooks:

1. Do NOT shop at the college bookstore.


You might need to go to the bookstore to figure out which books you need, but that doesn’t mean you need to buy them there. Write down the ISBN number for the books you need and leave immediately. Seriously, leave right now before they rip the debit card right out of your wallet.

2. Buy (or rent) from Amazon.

You read that correctly. The world’s biggest marketplace now allows you to rent textbooks for around half of what it would cost you to buy. With the magic of a true free market system on your side, you’re sure to save money and still get the books you need.

3. Go digital.

Go green and save green. In many cases, you can find electronic versions of textbooks for your PC or Kindle at almost a fraction of the price. So you don’t have to pay for or carry all that paper. And you can have the satisfaction of knowing a family of endangered squirrels have a cozy home tonight because you were willing to say no to paper textbooks.

4. Avoid instructors who force you to buy new editions.

So textbook companies force out “new” editions every year, which often means they added a new illustration here or a blurb about Oprah Winfrey there. Then they send a slick salesman to entreat your future professor until he or she gives in and promises to use the 26th edition instead of the almost-identical 25th edition. In short, your professor caved under pressure and sold you out.

If you ask around ahead of time, you can usually figure out who these weak-minded professors are. Discover them and do not register for their courses.

5. Borrow from a friend.

With general courses that everyone has to take, it’s not uncommon to find a friend that has the very textbook you will need. And there’s no shame in asking if you can borrow it. If they already took the class, then it works out perfectly–you can borrow the book without jeopardizing their studies. If they are taking the course concurrently with you, then you may need to work out a schedule–maybe you could even split the cost of the book.

Again, there’s no shame in sharing. Live together, die alone–that’s what Jack Shepherd would say and that’s what we’re telling you now. Learn how to work with others to outwit the textbook-makers, and your Saturday night plans will live to see another day.

What measures have you taken to save money on college textbooks? Share your secrets in the comments below!

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