1870 Mag

Curb The Co$t

How to keep your payments low on textbooks this year.

Ahh—the beginning of fall semester! A time filled with excitement, drinking, and going broke. With tuition already costing thousands of dollars (and even more if you are from out of state), the last expense we need is spending $600 on books. Fortunately, I’ve been around the college textbook block a time or two so I’ve learned the ways of getting books. If you are like me and trying to pinch a few pennies on books this year, here’s how I go about keeping costs low so I can keep my drinking money high.


We have literally all of the knowledge in the world at our fingertips. Odds are you can find an explanation for any subject matter covered in textbooks or in class online. You will probably only need one paragraph on one page of a 300 page book for one lesson in your class anyway. A great resource for this is Google Scholar where you can search for nearly any type of textbook or literature and find metadata information as well as snippets from the actual text. This, however, is not recommended for long-form essays.


EVERYTHING close to a college campus is marked up. Even things that do not seem marked up, rest assured knowing they are. Off-campus bookstores tend to have a lot of the commonly used textbooks and will always pay you cash for your books! If you are unsure about using an older version of your textbook, just ask your professor if it’s okay.


Unless the book provides insight about your future career (i.e. medical terminology books, the AP Style Guide for journalism/strat comm), there isn’t really a reason to permanently obtain a textbook. Renting a book allows you to get it for a fraction of the price compared to buying it. Don’t believe me? A chemistry textbook on Amazon will run you more than $200 if you aren’t a Prime Member, while renting will only cost $47.


If for whatever reason you have to buy the book, split it with a close friend in the class. Splitting the price of the book with someone you plan to study a lot with decreases the cost for both people and still grants everyone access. Don’t have a friend in class yet? Check out the class roster on Canvas and you’ll have a full list of everyone in the class. A simple email with the class CC’d on it is sure to bring in one other person interested in sharing.


More time than not, the digital version of a book tends to be cheaper than the physical version. You also don’t have to carry around a 20 pound book too and from campus. Looks like that new iPad is coming into use already.


OSU is involved with a service called the Interlibrary Loan which allows you to get textbooks even when they are unavailable at OSU through other schools libraries which include Ivy League schools like Princeton. You do have to mail the book back at the end of the university, but it is completely (included in the cost of tuition) free! Seriously, you may never have to buy a book again!


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