Preparing for university can be expensive. Aside from accommodation cost, tuition fees and of course, room décor, buying texts for your subject can really break the bank. Whilst some of the texts will be available through the university, many courses will ask the student to purchase the ‘key’ texts. To minimise the damage inflicted on your bank account, we have come up with a few cost-effective ways to source course books.

1. Borrow from friends

It may seem like an obvious but often students will feel awkward asking to borrow from their fellow course-mates. Truth is, they will probably want to give books away to alleviate their never-ending stack. Why not have an honours system: if you borrow one text make sure to repay the favour in future.

2. Always check the library

The best ways to get cheap books for university

Your university will have access to thousands if not millions of texts. Check your university library catalogue to make sure they don’t already have your book before you purchase it online. Taking out books from the library not only saves you money but forces you to read the book in an allocated amount of time- it’s a win win.

3. Online resources

Look to university to get cheap books for your course too! Alongside the physical library, universities will usually have a large store of online texts that can be accessed digitally. These can take the form of e-books or simply scanned pages of texts. Universities also have access to critical resources and, if you ask them politely, they may be able to source your book without you having to purchase it on the pretence that it will also help aid future students.

4. Second-hand books

Second-hand books

If you are unable to access your book free of charge, second-hand sites are the way to go. There are thousands of students trying to get rid of their university stacks and may texts will go cheap online. My personal favourite is ‘world of books’ where good quality texts will go for as little as £3!

5. Students selling books

Have you looked at your Facebook course group chat? Especially at the start of the academic year, many postgraduate students will look towards selling their undergraduate texts. The easiest way to do this is to target other students so make sure you are checking your socials regularly. Unid books is another great website where students will buy and sell textbooks so make sure to check that out as well.

6. Charity Shopping

Second-hand books

If you happen to be studying classics or English Literature a lot of the classic texts, you need can be found in charity shops. Austen, Forster, and Collins are almost always lingering in places like Oxfam so make sure to keep a look out in the future.

7. Use student discount

One of the ways to get cheap books for university is through using your student discount. Many places offer student discount including waterstones. This can save you up to 10% and, in the grand scheme of things, will truly make a difference. Be sure to set up apps like ‘Unidays’ or alternatively bring your student card to prove you are actually a student.

8. Use reward schemes

Many book sellers will offer reward schemes to encourage consumers to return and purchase more. Waterstones offer a student reward scheme where for every 10 plus stamps (a stamp earned when £10 is spent) you are rewarded with £10 to spend in stores. Many other places will offer similar schemes so make sure you do your research.

9. Buy in bulk

The best ways to get cheap books for university

Package deals save you money and ensure you are getting all the books required for certain modules. This can be done through online marketplaces but also through stores such as Blackwell’s which will offer bundle deals for popular modules/courses.

10. Swap with other students

Similar to borrowing from friends, swapping can also be a great way to save money. If you and a course mate have opted for the same module, why not take it in turns to read texts. This way you can limit your spending’s and also discuss your findings on certain texts and help each other out.

Although buying cheap books for university is a necessity when a student, don’t forget to support independent publishers and booksellers where you can. Independent companies have taken even more of a hit than usual with COVID and will need the support now more than ever. If you have a little money to spare, why not support a local book shop? We wish you the best in hunting down your text books this year!

For more ways to save money, check out our student guide to budgeting at uni. 

Last Updated on March 21, 2024