How to Afford your University Course Books

Elizabeth Whittingham·7 August 2018·5 min read
How to Afford your University Course Books

It’s the bane of every student’s life; buying course books.

Often universities will give you a list of books that are either compulsory or preferable to buy for your course, but it feels like they don’t take into account the massive financial strain this places on students.

To buy these books new and first-hand from a bookshop would often mean parting with a good few hundred pounds per year, but let’s be honest: is having brand new shiny books really worth leaving you out of pocket?

If the prospect of new books is just too much of a financial strain, don’t worry, there are plenty of ways that you can swipe some budget books!

1) Buy them off other students

Even if you don’t personally know anyone, it requires little effort to just post on your course facebook page to see if anyone in the year above you is selling their old course books to get some extra cash. This is always the first course of action you should take because often students are willing to sell multiple books to you in a bundle for a heavily discounted price.

I have found this way beneficial as an English Literature student because the books often contain useful annotations and notes.

2) Try second hand shops

Although time-consuming, searching through the shelves in second-hand bookstores or charity shops is always worth a shot! If there is a second-hand shop near your university then you should try going there just as the semester is ending or a new one is beginning because someone might have just off-loaded their books.

Often there are charity shops devoted entirely to books, including Oxfam shops, and these books will be arranged alphabetically so you won’t have to sift through for too long.

3) Search on amazon or eBay

This is quite a simple one but it’s surprising how much cheaper you can find books compared to their original price by searching on these sites. If you look at the description, there is normally a rating letting you know what kind of condition it is in ranking from ‘acceptable’ to ‘brand new’.

A lot of the time books are listed at 1p, meaning you only have to pay the £3 postage and packaging costs, amazing, right?

4) Read online

It’s worth checking if you can find the book available to read for free on the web. This is especially the case if it’s a short book or a play, and if you want a physical copy, you can always print it off at your university library. If you have an essay to write but can’t find the book in the library, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to buy it!

Try searching for it on google books, this is ideal because there is a search bar so you can look up keywords to be directed to a specific page.

5). Use student discount

An increasing number of shops are giving students a discount, and a lot of the time, you don’t need to have bought an NUS card. Just sign up to UniDays online or through the app and you can get discounts for free. Waterstones offer 10% discount to students and Amazon offer 5% with an NUS card.

6). Try swap sites

This is not a well-known method amongst students, but it’s especially useful if you have old course books to sell yourself.

Website Readitswapit allows you to make a profile and then post the titles of the books you are willing to trade. This way, you’re simply getting rid of unwanted items and feel like you’re losing no money at all!