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Marinoff: Five Ways to Save on Textbooks

Book Cover LargeCollege can be expensive. There’s no denying that, but sometimes it’s the price of textbooks that really put a damper on a student’s bank account.

With the growing popularity of the e-book, printing costs have skyrocketed over the last few years, and publishers are doing all they can to stay in business. Textbooks can cost upwards of $200 to $300, and each semester is likely to tack on $700 to $1,000 in book expenses alone.

Textbooks shouldn’t require a student to live on ramen and faucet water throughout their four years of study. Here are five easy ways to avoid some of those heavy book costs.


While this may seem like a no-brainer, Amazon can be a huge resource for finding used and therefore less-expensive books for all your classes. Brand new, a textbook is priced to the max, but much like the vehicle you drive, it loses value over time. One that is already a year old is likely to cost you anywhere from $10-$30 less on average, allowing more funds to sit securely within your wallet. You can also purchase digital copies of books for your Kindle reader or computer, which tend to be considerably cheaper than books in print form.

Amazon also offers lengthy sample segments, sometimes of several or even ALL of a book’s chapters through its online list page. Granted you have work due right away, these samples may be all you need to stay on track and keep up your pace while figuring out what purchasing route to take.


Google Books can be another great resource if Amazon doesn’t have what you’re looking for. Like Amazon, Google Books can give discounted prices on various texts, and in terms of sample chapters, its offerings are sometimes superior to those of Amazon. Occasionally, large portions or the entire book itself is posted on Google Books for your observation and usage, so give this resource a try.


Sometimes, entire PDF copies of books are posted online for our viewing pleasure, and if you require a particularly unique text or one that doesn’t cover general subject matter, the likelihood of finding it on an independent website is even greater. One thing to consider is that searching online may take you a while. If the book is posted somewhere for you to read, it’s not likely to appear in the first few results, or even within the first few search pages. It’s probably buried deep within the bowels of the World Wide Web, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Give yourself the necessary time to perform these searches carefully. Right when you reach page 12 or 13 and you feel like giving up or that your search isn’t producing valid results, TA-DA! A PDF link of the book you’re aiming to find is likely to be staring right back at you.


Say you’re taking a class that requires edition “10” of a book. You find it, and discover that it’s priced at $120. That’s more money than you’re willing to spend. Then you notice edition “9” placed conveniently next to it. It’s an older edition, but it’s priced at $25. In your opinion, this is a much more reasonably-priced item, but the edition is throwing you off. You don’t want to fall behind due to what could be a lack of up-to-date information.

THIS will make you feel better… Most of the updates in a higher edition book tend to be either structural or grammatical. They may contain some mild paragraph changes or a new forward written by the author. For the most part however, the core or central information presented in textbooks will remain the same, so don’t allow worry to bring you down. Purchase the older edition and push that financial rock off your back.


Sometimes, a class will offer enough supplemental materials and in-depth lectures to get the job done. You’re learning more than you thought possible, you’re doing well in your assignments and on quizzes, and you’re confident in your ability to earn a passing grade as is. In that case, why bother spending money on books you’re not likely to use? If you can, take some time to really get a feel for your classes before rushing out and purchasing any required texts. Take strong notes, listen to the lectures carefully and test your abilities and knowledge as it stands. If you find yourself succeeding without having to spend money, why not give yourself a break? Finish the course without breaking the bank.

HeadshotNick Marinoff is a freelance writer, author and journalist. He is currently a lead news writer for Money & Tech, a San Francisco-based broadcasting station that reports on all things digital currency-related. His articles have been featured in a number of online publications including News BTC, Live Bitcoin News, Black Impact Magazine, Benzinga.com and The Loan Gurus, to name a few. His first book, Take a ‘Loan’ Off Your Shoulders: 14 Simple Tricks for Graduating Debt Free is now available on Amazon.com. He currently travels throughout his home state of California offering educational advice to students and their families. He holds a BA from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. Visit his author page at amazon.com/author/nickmarinoff for more information, view recent blog posts or purchase a copy of the book. You can contact him directly at takealoanoff@gmail.com.

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