How to Get Free College Textbooks

Finding a free option for all your required textbooks may not be possible, but even one or two free books can save a student hundreds of dollars.

1. University Library

Your university library probably won’t have the textbooks for every class that you’re taking, but sometimes the best place to start is the most obvious. Many college professors will have a copy of their textbook on reserve at the library. Start early and check to see which textbooks are available at your university library at the start of the semester to avoid the heavy traffic.

Some textbooks can be checked out but reference textbooks can only be used inside of the library. A good solution to this is to simply use your phone to take pictures of the pages you need so that you can pull them up when you need them. This is also a good method for textbooks with short check-out times.

Also, make sure to talk to the librarian on staff if you can’t find the books you need. Sometimes the book might not have been shelved yet or it might be kept at the front. Also, What they don’t have in-stock can often be requested via interlibrary loan agreements so taking a few minutes to chat with the librarian could save you a couple hundred dollars.

2. Book Swaps/Exchanges

Once the semester ends textbooks start to collect dust on your bookshelf. Instead of selling them back to the school at a loss or having them take up space thinking that they will some day come in handy consider giving them to someone else.

The way book exchanges work is pretty simple. A book exchange connects students who need textbooks for a class they are going to take with students have already taken those classes. Once you find a student who has the textbook you need negotiate with them to find out if you have a textbook that they need. Then simply swap books and both of you will walk away with a no-cost textbook.

Book exchanges are usually set-up by students and are heavily dependent on student involvement so if your school doesn’t already have a book exchange – start one!

3. EBooks/PDFs

Many books are available online through organizations that provide textbooks in their entirety online, completely free of charge. Gutenberg is the oldest digital library in the world and offers more than 43,000 e-books, completely free of charge. This is possible because copyrights are expired on all of the titles available for download via Project Gutenberg.  Titles available on the site span categories such as archaeology, horticulture, microbiology and World War I.

Johannes Gutenberg introduced printing to Europe.

Gutenberg is the oldest digital library in the world and offers more than 43,000 e-books, completely free of charge. This is possible because copyrights are expired on all of the titles available for download via Project Gutenberg.  Titles available on the site span categories such as archaeology, horticulture, microbiology and World War I. Other major players such as Freeload Press and Textbook Revolution also hosts a collection of textbooks. Although they only stock a few hundred books apiece, it’s worth it to browse their catalog just in case.

While we can guarantee that that latest version of your Organic Chemistry textbook will be on these sites it’s definitely a good idea to spend some time searching for some older texts required for a comparative literature course you’re taking.

4. Free Trials

Desperate times call for desperate measures and when you really need a free book consider utilizing free trial ebook subscription. Most major ebook subscription services offer a week, two week or even month long trial at no cost to you.

This is a great way to get a free copy of a novel you need to read for you English or Literature course. Some of the major textbook subscription services are:

While these trials only provide you with the book for a short time you can utilize this time to really power through the book and take notes. Then simply read over your notes once the class has reached that point in reading. If you haven’t already signed up for an Amazon Student account, take advantage of our promotional link to receive an additional $5 in Amazon Credit with you free Amazon Prime account.

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