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​11 ways to get free or discount books for college

With these tips you'll have a lot more money for pizza and energy drinks.


Used textbooks can be even better than new.

Alina Bradford/ CNET

One of the biggest expenses of college -- other than tuition, of course -- is textbooks and required reading books. You can lessen the blow by going digital, buying used or renting.

Here are 11 ways to get free or discounted textbooks:

  1. The first place to look for free text books is your university's library. Most libraries carry textbooks or they can get you the textbook you're looking for from another library through the interlibrary system. The trick is you need to get to your school's library as soon as possible before other students scoop up all the free books.
  2. has free books that can be read in your browser, so make sure to bookmark the books you need for class.
  3. Project Gutenberg has over 43,000 free ebooks. You may be able to find most of your required reading list here.
  4. Borrow the textbook from a friend and take it to your local copy place. Have them scan the pages and upload it to a flash drive. This service is comparatively inexpensive and you'll have a digital copy of your textbook.
  5. You can find free and discounted ebooks through ManyBooks. The best way to find textbooks is by going to the instructional section of the site.
  6. Ask your college advisor if there is a student book exchange program. Many universities and colleges have programs set up where students can get used textbooks from other students for free.
  7. Boundless provides a marketplace for students to buy, sell and rent textbooks.
  8. Amazon and Barnes & Noble both offer textbooks for rent. You can rent your textbook for the semester, no strings attached.
  9. Textbook Nova searches Amazon for discounted textbooks. You can get deep discounts on most of your textbooks by using this site.
  10. Use the Freetextbooks app to order your books and you'll get a percentage of your books for free. The app also lets you choose how you want your book. You can buy them or rent them and they claim to deliver your books within an hour in major college and university towns.
  11. You may be able to get some of your required reading for free using Amazon's Kindle Lending Library. You just need a subscription to Amazon Prime. Many books may also be free through Kindle Unlimited
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