How to Get Your Textbooks Cheaply and Quickly


Veronica Liow

There are a multitude of secondhand textbook sellers, both online and in store, for NYU students to take advantage of.

Taylor Nicole Rogers, Features Editor

Even if you decided to take a gamble and not buy your textbooks, it’s getting far enough into the semester where you’ll have to peek at that booklist. The cost of your books shouldn’t hold you back. Here’s how to save hundreds of dollars, and still get your books by the end of the week.

Don’t Assume That You Have to Pay

Obtaining the books you need doesn’t have to bankrupt you. Before you pull out your credit card, check to see if you can find them for free online. Google Books allows you to access every page of many of the anthologies commonly used in core classes, such as Texts and Ideas, for free. Additionally, you can acquire the majority of the  required classical literature for departments such as Journalism and Politics from Bobst for free. Most books can be rented for 120 days, and you are even allowed highlight and make notes in them. Plus, your bookshelf won’t be cluttered by books you’ll never look at again.

Take Advantage of Your Connections

One of your best sources for affordable textbooks is your classmates. When you ask your friends for class recommendations, be sure to ask them for their old books as well. Offer to give them a few dollars to borrow their books from them for the semester before they sell them back to the bookstore. If you can’t find what you need from your friends, buy books from strangers on NYU’s Textbook Exchange Facebook page. The books you get from other students won’t come with the online codes that some classes require, but you can then barter with sellers to drive the prices down even lower.

Shop Around

Buying used books on Amazon is easy because you can just copy and paste the book’s ISBN straight from the bookstore’s website into the search bar, but Amazon doesn’t always have the lowest prices. As an alternative, the websites of traditionally more expensive retailers such as Barnes and Noble and Walmart have marketplaces with thousands of sellers where you can find great deals. Better yet, Barnes and Noble often runs promotions at the beginning of each semester that provide free gift cards with purchases over a certain amount.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

If purchasing the assigned textbooks would cause real financial strain, don’t be afraid to talk to your professors. Oftentimes, they can tell you if the reading is indispensable or less crucial for performing well in the class. Sometimes they even have extra copies or old editions of the required and will let you borrow them. All you have to do is ask.

Email Taylor Nicole Rogers at [email protected].