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How to Get Free College Books


You don’t always have to pay for your college textbooks. Here are some great ways to find free college books online.

Why pay full price for textbooks when you can find them online for free or really cheap?

One of the not-so-fun things about college is the cost of the textbooks. It’s like one of those hidden fees that you only notice after you already made the purchase. Tuition is already a big cost, and then you find out how much each textbook costs! It’s not a pleasant surprise. We understand that it’s a bummer. But don’t worry!

These days, there are tons of resources online and almost all books can be found in electronic form. From PDFs and e-books, to renting or borrowing, and utilizing your college’s library, there are many ways to access college material for free (or really cheap). And this way you’ll have the extra cash to order that late night pizza or drink all those coffees on the way to class.

So if you’re wondering what to do, look no further – we did the homework for you! Here are ways to find free (or really cheap) college textbooks.

Free Online Textbooks

What’s better than free? We know that the free options are the best ones. So we think these websites are good ones to start with. These are sites that offer free downloadable PDFs or ebook versions of textbooks.

University of the People

  • All online course material is free, You can access your course content through your cell phone, your laptop, or your tablet. Who wants to carry around heavy textbooks anyways?
  • Project Gutenberg has over 57,000 free ebooks. You may be able to find most of your required reading list here. You can download them or read them online. What’s cool about Project Gutenberg is that thousands of volunteers digitized the ebooks for the benefit of others. And now you can enjoy the hard work they put in. How nice!


  • Bookboon has free ebooks and textbooks in PDF form. There is a large variety from accounting to languages to engineering. Take a look – maybe they have exactly what you’re looking for.

Our tip: Download as many relevant books as you can (as opposed to reading them online). This way you won’t need wifi connection to access them and you can build your own personal, virtual library that you can access anytime, everywhere.

Almost Free and Discounted Books

Most of the internet has almost free options for things like books. There are endless discounted sites and resources that take minimal fees that are definitely worth investing in. Here are a few:

Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited

  • Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited has over 1 million books and thousands of audiobooks. It’s a monthly payment of $9.99, but you can cancel at anytime and you can start with a 30-day free trial. You can upgrade your membership to Prime for a small fee and get unlimited book access to more titles. That’s a pretty sweet deal.

eTextbooks on Amazon

  • This is another great feature that could be really beneficial for you. You can download, print, buy or rent textbooks to any device you have. This is a great option for those of you that like to read on your cell phones, tablets, or laptops.

Source: Pixabay

Textbook Nova

  • Created by a former college student who believed it’s unfair to charge so much for college textbooks and started a website that searches Amazon for the cheapest textbooks. You can get deep discounts on most of your textbooks by using this site. What a great tool!


  • a popular website that has a vast collection of textbooks and discounts of up to 75% off.

Our tip: Think about what suits you best. Do you want to buy and keep the books? Or would you rather rent and return, or buy and sell? If you know what you plan on doing, you can look for the right site that suits your needs.

Used Textbooks

Sometimes there’s nothing better than a real, tangible book that you can scribble on, write notes in, and hold in your hands. The trick is finding used books where someone hasn’t already done that! But don’t worry, there are tons available. Remember, many students have taken the courses you are taking, have read the textbooks you need, and are looking to get rid of them and either sell them or give them away to students like you. These are some ways in which you can go about it:

Source: Pixabay


  • There are lots of groups for students to find, borrow, buy, and sell textbooks. Search your college’s groups. You’re sure to find at least one.

Online marketplaces:

  • Freetextbooks

    • An app that is made for students to find, share, and purchase the things they need, including textbooks! You can even make commission on the books that you will buy, sell, or deliver. If you’re going to buy and sell textbooks, why not make some money while doing it!
  • Student2student

    • Another great online marketplace. You can buy and sell textbooks directly with students on your campus. This is an awesome option to not have to deal with credit cards and shipping!

Asking fellow classmates:

  • Sometimes it’s easiest to just ask the people in your classes or that you see around at school. The internet is a really efficient and useful resource, but there’s also the classic method of speaking to people face to face! And it can be just as simple.

Book swap:

  • For those of you who love to connect with people and create groups, organizing a book swap at your college can be a really great way to not only find and share textbooks, but also make friends and create networks! This can be done by creating a Facebook group or even by word of mouth to your peers.

Our tip: Join all the student groups on Facebook, especially the ones relating to your field and school. Almost every student is on it and people post all the time about buying and selling textbooks. Now you’re in buyer’s mode, but when you’re done your course and don’t need the books anymore, you might move to seller’s mode. And who couldn’t use the extra cash?

Your College Library

Source: Pixabay

It’s easy to forget sometimes the things that are right around the corner. Like the school library! College libraries are usually huge and filled with every book you can imagine. And they also have a website with most of the books in electronic form as well.

Have you ever seen the movie Good Will Hunting? If so, you might remember the bar scene when Will says, “You dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a f**in’ education you coulda got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library.” Okay, so it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get a degree. But it does mean that the library has all the books you need!

Our tip: Try first to see if your college library has the books you need for your courses. And best to go there as soon as possible, because other students might beat you to the punch. There are usually only a few copies of each book. Oh, and if you haven’t seen Good Will Hunting, you should. It’s a great movie.

Renting Textbooks

Renting books is a great way to save money and get rid of them when you’re done. You will have a rental period but in most cases, you can extend them if you didn’t have enough time. These sites are a good place to start:

The Textbook Rental Store

  • The Textbook Rental Store is a neat option. Amazon has a platform for you to rent books from their store for a semester, with the option to extend your rental period or purchase the book. This option is perfect for those of who don’t plan on keeping the books after you’re done with them.


  • CampusBookRentals is a platform to rent as well as buy textbooks. They make it really easy for you. You purchase the book, they ship it to with a prepaid mailer, and you send it back by your rental due date. Couldn’t get easier than that!

Our tip: As soon as you get your syllabus, start searching for your books. The sooner, the better! Remember, you’re not the only one looking for a good deal. So if you choose to rent, move fast! There is usually a limited number of books available.

Jacqueline Freteluco

Business Administration, USA