Textbook Savvy

Learn ways to save money on course textbooks and materials

Textbook Tips

This guide shares tips for saving money on your class textbooks.  The library does not have a textbook collection, as buying all required textbooks, even one copy each, would exceed our entire library book budget. 

To search the library catalog for your course materials, use the Books+ tab.

Below are some ways to control the cost of textbooks. If you would like assistance locating your textbooks, please feel free to ask a librarian.

What Can You Do to Control Textbook Costs?

Shop Early

  • Textbook list and course materials can be found on the bookstore textbook search
  • Review the ISBN, title, edition, author, and picture if available
  • Understand the return policies and save your receipt in case you need to return the textbook
  • Pay attention to the options available
    • Rental
    • Digital or e-textbook
    • Hard copy
    • Access card or web access – pay attention to the policy for web access

Online Shopping Strategies

  • Find the publisher for your textbook- see if older, cheaper editions are available and ask your instructor if an older edition is acceptable
  • View other websites to compare the cost of textbooks such as Amazon and eBay textbooks
  • Find out if you have to pay for return shipping to return the textbook
  • Textbook and course material formats
    • Rentals – pay attention to what is or is not included
    • Kindle app – can be used on iPads too
    • Digital formats – pay attention to what is or is not included

Rent Your Textbook

TextbookRentals.com offers a one-stop shopping site for books – just type in the ISBN and the site will return a list of rental and purchase options for you to compare.


Not all textbooks have electronic versions 

  • Review the software requirements before buying or renting electronically
  • E-texts might not include companion materials or access codes
  • E-textbooks may be purchased or rented, but usually restrict the number of devices on which they may be used, as well as copy and print limits
  • If you drop a class and no longer need the e-book, you may be able to get a refund within the first week of classes if you have not already downloaded the book or used the access code

Other Tips

  • Go to the first day of class and make sure the instructor is using all of the textbooks
  • Ask your instructor to place a copy of the textbook on reserve at the library
  • Encourage your instructor to use open educational resources
  • If possible, share books with classmates