Savvy saving on textbooks

Image by: Kailun Zhang
Used textbooks for the budget conscious student.

Like many university students, I have approximately 40 cents to my name, and textbooks have a price tag that makes my heart skip a beat (or five).

Thankfully, I’ve found a way to be sale savvy; I haven’t paid full price for a textbook this year, and I don’t plan on doing so ever again. Below are my tips and tricks for buying and selling textbooks without breaking your bank.

Buy used, sell used

This seems obvious, but checking out Facebook groups like Free & For Sale, Textbook Exchange and Used Textbooks for Sale (Queen’s) for your books can help you find them for much cheaper than the used versions at the campus bookstore or the Tricolour Outlet. Don’t be too picky either; people want books without notes written in the margins, so often times tattered textbooks are discounted even more, but at the end of the day, your readings will be exactly the same in a pretty textbook and an old textbook. Selling your books from last year can also offset the cost of buying textbooks for the new year.

Check online retailers

Amazon, Chegg and other book suppliers online might have your textbooks for a discount. Amazon also offers a free six-month trial of Amazon Prime, so you won’t even have to pay for shipping.

Use e-books

Many textbook producers will offer e-book versions of their textbooks. They’re a little hard to find, but they’re often discounted by 40 per cent or more. Novels and guides for English, history and more are also sometimes found online as ebooks. Project Gutenburg is a great place to (legally) find novels for free.

Borrow, borrow, borrow

In all honesty, I was awful at doing my readings, which made buying textbooks a particularly useless endeavor. You definitely should always do your readings, but if you’re being honest with yourself and you know you’re not going to always do them, check out the libraries and see if they have a copy in stock that you can borrow.

It’s a little bit more effort, but knowing you’ve saved yourself $150 will make you feel much better about trekking out to Stauffer. Plus, since you’re already there, you’ll be more inclined to focus and actually get your readings done.

But do you really need it?

Do you really need the textbook? Every professor says yes, but check with upper year students. There are some classes that you can get away with just not doing the readings, although it’s up to you to decide if that’s a risk you want to take.

Either way, don’t buy the textbook until you’ve been to at least the first two classes. If you decide to drop the class, you’ll be stuck with a textbook you don’t need. 


Budget, class, School, Studying, textbooks, tips

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