10 Ways to Save BIG $$$ on Textbooks

Posted by on April 3, 2013

How many of you sell your textbooks back at the end of the quarter? What if I told you those same textbooks are going to cost $50 a month for the next 10 years even though their existence is long gone from memory?

It’s true!  The average quarterly cost of textbooks for Minnesota School of Business students in associate degree programs is $807. So by doing some simple math and assuming you used loans to buy your books, we can calculate $807 X 6 quarters (average time to complete an associate program) = $4,842 X 6.8% (assuming this is your interest rate) = a $56 monthly payment over 10 years or 120 payments.

how to save money on textbooks

Financial Aid Advisor Yolanda Olive

Why am I telling you this?  Because this doesn’t have to be the case—there are numerous ways that students can save money on textbooks and ultimately eliminate any textbook debt.

Financial Aid Advisor, Yolanda Olive, has put together 10 ways to save money on textbooks. 

Check them out:

  • Save 20% off books by getting perfect attendance—start the Spring Quarter off right and aim for getting perfect attendance. Last quarter Elk River students saved a whopping total of $2,504.12 on books—that’s an average of $71.54 per student.
  • Buy textbooks used through MBS Direct—if there is a used book option available, consider buying it. On a plus side, someone else may have already highlighted the important details in the book for you.
  • Buy textbooks online—this is probably the most common alternative for finding your books for less money. Websites like Amazon.com, Half.com, or even Chegg.com sell and rent books. In most cases you can turn around and sell your books for close to what you purchased them for a few months ago.
  • Get textbooks on a Kindle—do you have a Kindle? Many textbooks are available through this option and less expensive than a hard copy.
  • Exchange textbooks with friends—do you know someone who has recently taken the same class as you and they are taking a class that you already took? Ask if they would be willing to swap textbooks.
  • Find recycled textbooks—did you know we have a box for students to recycle their textbooks? It’s located right by the restrooms on the 1st floor. THESE ARE FREE!
  • Check and post to the student board—on the 2nd floor by the elevator doors, fellow peers can list if they are looking for a particular book or selling one.
  • MSB Elk River Facebook page—social media makes it easier than ever to announce you might have a book for sale or are looking for one. Feel free to post on the MSB–Elk River Facebook page that you are looking for or selling a textbook.
  • Check out local Thrift Stores—I’ve had students tell me that they found the same textbooks at local thrift stores for a fraction of the price.
  • Craigslist—let’s face it, people sell just about everything imaginable on Craigslist, including textbooks.

Yolanda’s Words of Caution:

Always be careful when buying books from a source other than MBS Direct because it is easy to mistakenly purchase an old edition or just pieces of what you need. 

The best way to ensure you are getting the correct book is to actually click on “see details” in MBS Direct to see the individual ISBN numbers. The ISBN number is specific to that book and oftentimes you just have to copy and paste it into another website such as Amazon to start shopping around and saving money.

Also, be careful if your book says it comes with an access card.  Buying a used book usually will not come with the access card, so you will have to buy it separately from the book publisher, which can sometimes cost more than just buying the new book with the access card.

These are just a few ways to save money on textbooks. Have you found other ways to save money when buying your books? Share your tips in the comments section below!


Thank you for your Interest in Minnesota School of Business.