How to save money on University textbooks

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If you're just starting university one of the first tasks you'll have to do is grab your textbooks for the start of term, and they don't come cheap.

Some textbooks can cost upwards of £100, but even if cheaper, the money can soon stack up with some courses requiring ten or more books.

Here's our guide full of top tips to saving money on University text books.

To buy or to loan?

Firstly there is a question over whether or not you need to even buy your textbooks, or whether you can simply loan them from your library.

This will depend on a number of factors, and two main ones being does your library stock the book and are there any copies left.

But even if these two criteria are met the answer may not be so straightforward. Popular books may not be able to be loaned for long periods, and sometimes it's better to have your own book anyway.

Advantages to buying include the freedom to do what you want with the book, such as tearing pages out, highlights areas, doodling, making notes and so forth. You also don't have to worry too much about losing it or incurring fees by returning it late.

And while you will obviously have to pay for your own book, you can sell it on once you've finished and may be able to get a reasonably good price, some other students may even be willing to pay a bit more if you have covered it in (helpful!) notes and points.

Cheap places to buy

If you do decide to buy then there are several options and places to try to get a good deal...

1) Fellow students
Possibly the cheapest place to grab a deal is from your fellow students who most likely will have absolutely no need for the book once they've completed their course. Ask your friends and check your student notice board for people offering books for sale.

2) Online book marketplaces
The likes of Ebay and Amazon are great places to pick up bargains, with cheap second hand text books usually going for well below market prices. But there are some great specialist book sites with second hand deals, with other sites to look at including The Book Depository. Search around and see if where you can find the cheapest deal.

3) Online sites
If you've no luck in the marketplaces then look at online shops to buy new, with Amazon being our top tips for the cheapest prices, but also try Waterstones especially for more specific books or rarer editions.

4) Book shop
Most universities will have a deal with a local book shop to stock all the titles students need, so the good news is that it'll be guaranteed you'll be able to pick up a copy of all the textbooks you need. The bad news is that these places generally charge the most, sometimes even above the already high RRPs. We'd suggest going to your bookshop as a last resort!


If you chose to loan your books, get a head start. With limited copies and sometimes hundreds of students after them, the most popular course books will be quickly let out to others if you don't get in there quick. Don't wait until term starts, most libraries allow you to reserve books, but even if they don't, try and get a copy as soon as possible.

If you're unlucky at your university's library, try your city's local council or independent run library. While their selection of textbooks will be a lot smaller, they may well stock the one your after so it's worth a look. Most libraries now allow you to search their books online too, meaning you can check without having to leave the house. Or even without getting dressed, if you're that lazy.

About the author: Thomas Brella

Thomas Brella is the founder of Student Hacks, starting the website in 2013 while studying at the University of Brighton to share tips and tricks on life as a cash-strapped student. He's now spent over 10 years scoping out the best ways to live on a budget

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