Buying your books for University

buying books for university and the cheaper alternatives

If you have been given a huge long reading list of books for university you may be worried about the cost, where is the best place to buy your books and which ones should you buy?

The fact is that university textbooks are very expensive. Many first years make the mistake of rushing out to buy all essential reading list in a fit of enthusiasm. It can end up costing hundreds of pounds!

When it comes to sourcing books for university, there are several different options to consider. You may find that for some books you need to have your own hard copy and others you won’t. Sometimes it is worth talking to second year students who are doing your course. You can see what they recommend before you rush out and buy the whole list.

Here are some different options to consider…

The Library

You will often find that the main books for university and for your course are always unavailable. Everyone is after copies, and the Library is always worth a try first as it’s free – unless you forget to take it back.

Textbook Rental

The main advantage of this is that its typically cheaper overall to rent. You also don’t have the upfront costs of buying the books. The downside is that you have to give the books back. They will be second hand, but if you don’t mind that, then this could be a good option for you. You do need to be organised though. Make sure that you send the books back when they’re due. Visit Alibris for more information.

Buy Secondhand

This has the advantage over renting that the books are yours to keep. You can often pick them up at greatly reduced prices compared to buying new. One of the best places to buy second hand books is Ebay. Some universities have spaces for second or third year students to advertise their second hand books, so check out if your university does this. If not, there are companies that trade in second hand textbooks, so not only can you buy them but you can also sell yours when you’ve finished with them and get some money back. Visit Abebooks for more information.


A new and growing possibility is that many academic textbooks are now being published as ebooks, saving huge amounts on printed textbooks. If you have the technology to use them, it is definitely worth checking if the books you need are available yet. If they aren’t, keep checking each term as more and more are being published all the time. Visit for more information.

Buying them new

This is probably the most expensive option, but it does of course have its advantages. The book is yours to keep, you can make notes and marks on it. Some of the main bookshops such as Blackwells offer discounted prices of up to 50% off the rrp and special offers throughout the year also mean that you can pick up new books at reduced prices, so keep your eye on the ones you are after.

And don’t forget to sell them once you’ve finished with them. We Buy Books has made it nice and easy. All you have to do is enter the ISBN, they will value your books for you, you print off a pre-paid postage label so you don’t even have to go to the Post Office and they will pay you when they receive your package. This can be a great way to make some money as a student.

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