When shopping here, be sure to inqure about used textbooks. (Image credit: Hector Alejandro)

Once a new college textbook is purchased and used in some form, it technically becomes a “used” textbook right away. There are a number of advantages to buying used textbooks.

The main reason students are sometimes adamant about buying their textbooks used is so that they can save money. Compared to brand new versions of textbooks, used copies cost significantly less than the prices of their new counterparts. According to CollegesList.com, students can save up to 25% or more off the regular list price of a new textbook. This means $25 in savings off a book that costs $100, or better yet, $75 in savings if you buy three books for a total of $300. This discount is often much higher on books that are not considered to be in “excellent” condition but are still very usable. If you use the price comparison feature for used textbooks on Textbooks.org, you will often find websites that rate the quality of used books so that you know what kind of shape they are in and if they are worth getting.

Here is a perfect example of how much you can save on used textbooks: In late 2011, Campbell Biology’s 9th Edition was listed at $202.67 if you wanted to buy it new. But on two different websites that sell used books, you could find a used copy of it for as low as $99.99. This is a savings of over 50%.

Many off-campus textbook stores that are located close to college campuses often carry a larger selection of used textbooks than the used inventory at an official university-owned bookstore. This is why it can be very beneficial to shop for used books at these stores since they are more readily available here. In addition, shopping for books online means you will have more access to used books on websites where students sell their textbooks.

Although some used books have some highlighting in them or have some pages that are slightly ripped, some students will get lucky by finding a book that has notes in it from a former student who wrote them in it. If this student took the same class that you will be taking, you might have an advantage by getting some free notes that you would not find in new copies of the book. At the very least, you can find out what past students who took the same class focused on and what the professor suggested students zone in on in their textbooks. These books that contain writing and other marks are typically sold at lower prices, so if you don’t mind it and can still use the book properly, you will likely save a little more money by purchasing these kinds of used books.

Overall, if you want to buy your books rather than rent them, there is no reason not to buy used copies of them if they are available. If you take decent care of them and keep them in the same condition that they were in when you bought them, you can resell them and get about the same amount back that you paid for them.