Discounted textbooks: tried and tested student hacks

Oh, learning. That’s what university is for, right? Well, aside from learning how to ‘adult’ and discovering that partying 3 days in a row is bad for your health. But with learning comes great expenses: textbooks. In many universities, courses and their lecturers expect you to read the designated material. This is usually found in articles, readings and books. These books, however, can amount to some serious damage for your wallet. Some textbooks cost over €100. And, if you have to buy more than one textbook per semester or course, and multiply that per study year, you have payed quite a lot. That's why buying discounted textbooks is the way to go!

Though there are benefits to buying new textbooks (they are clean, with no writing or marks, and you can potentially sell them to new students when you have used them), cost sometimes trumps beauty. That’s why the age-old student trick of buying discounted books second-hand always works. But where to find them? Here are some tips and tricks on finding used books to help you get through your studies:

Image of girl reading discounted textbooks

Where can I find discounted textbooks?

Student association discounts

In many Dutch universities, you can find study or faculty associations. Perhaps your school or faculty association provides their students with discounts on books. You might have to sign up and pay a member fee, but you could be looking at discounts that could save you a lot of money in the looooong run.

Connections, people, connections

Another great resource to finding discounted textbooks is contacting students from the upper years. They usually keep their textbooks nice and tidy in order to sell them for a cheaper price. You could probably even negotiate with them for a deal if the textbooks are old or scribbled in. But, even if there are highlights and notes, that might just help you with your own studying…

Facebook groups

Continuing with the theme of asking older students, your course might have a Facebook group where members can post questions or even sell books. This can be a good way to get all of your books in one go, as you can mix and match sellers or groups.

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Study Stores

You might also get discounts on brand new books. Universities buy the books to sell to their students, but they won’t sell them at retail price. Most likely, they will sell them for a reduced price, lower than if you would buy them yourself from another source. Check your campus store to find out if you can buy the books there for a discount, or use this website to check prices!

The library is where it's at

If you can’t get your own personal copy of a textbook, borrow it! Your university library is sure to carry most, if not all, of your textbooks. You can easily photocopy the pages you need to read (sometimes you don’t need the whole book). But be aware of copyright issues; as the library how many pages you can copy to keep within copyright regulations!

And finally, check out online versions! Many books come in PDF format which you can download for free, mainly through your university library. Or, just Google the PDF versions and see if you can get them for yourself.


And that, fellow students, is how you save yourself some money when it comes to buying discounted textbooks. Look online, find a friend, or risk it and buy a brand new version. You can always sell it when you are done with it, and get some of the money back!


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