Answer: How Do I Save Money on Textbooks?


Textbooks are EXTREMELY expensive.

(not just the ones pictured here, ALL OF THEM – these may even be some of the cheaper ones…)

All y’all in college know this. All of you graduate students who went to college also know this.

Still, upon starting graduate school and coming to terms with being broke as f*$%, I was SHOCKED at how much my textbooks cost. In college I could sometimes get away with not buying the book, especially since I was taking some gen eds for which I would never again need to reference the book (exploring the cosmos, college 101, world literature, christian tradition).

Graduate school was a different story. I absolutely needed the books considering the vast majority of assignments ARE readings. I knew I would probably return to some of the books for reference through graduate school and beyond. But STILL. I could not justify spending a twelfth of my yearly salary (yeah, you read that right – BALLINNNN$$$$$$$$) each semester on books.

This image of textbooks for sale is frightening enough to give me heart palpitations:


So here’s my advice:

STOP buying your textbooks.

I’ll go even further: STOP PAYING FOR RENTALS!!!


“Uh – okay, so what now?”

I was right there with you just a few years back! Fortuitously, I was reminded of an important, yet until now mostly ignored, piece of advice I was given from my undergraduate advisor, “I don’t buy books from Amazon or Barnes and Noble until I’ve borrowed them from the library and know I want to own them.”

“Well, duh…”

“Okay, I just checked. My library doesn’t have a copy of the textbook on hand, so I guess I’ll stay in this long ass line waiting to pick up the textbooks I ordered…”


WAIT! Not so fast – allow me to elaborate:


My undergraduate institution was small (but powerful!). We didn’t have an immense library (especially in eccentric topics like history of psychology, relationship science, and neuropsychology of emotions). So many times, my ever-wise professor would receive a book recommendation, or come across a needed text in a reference section, and our humble library would fall short.

JK JK! The library is a nearly ancient institution – it would not leave its knowledge-hungry members without a resource they needed!

Answer: The Interlibrary Loan Program!

Most universities (including very small liberal arts places like my alma mater) have an interlibrary loan delivery program in place. This process allows libraries within a library network to SHARE access to resources they have.

“I already use this system to gain access to articles that my library doesn’t have. I’M TALKING ABOUT TEXTBOOKS!!!!”

Yes! You’re right! Many ILL programs use this same process to exchange articles that students and faculty need. Back when this program started (the first one started in 1894… WHOAAAA), everything was done BY HAND, THROUGH THE MAIL.


Can you imagine that process? THE HEADACHE?

  1. Find an article in a book/article on paper.
  2. Visit your library in person just to find that they do not have the article you need.
  3. Request (BY HAND) the article
  4. Librarians work tirelessly filling out paper request forms and sending them TO YOUR AUTHOR, IN THE MAIL.
  5. Authors work to process the requests (or maybe the publishers handled this?? I don’t know)
  6. EVENTUALLY your copy of the article is MAILED back to you.


SERIOUS kudos to all y’all that earned graduate degrees pre-internet.

And now we just type a few words into our search bars and if we’re on campus we can usually grab a copy. If not, the librarians electronically request the article and often times I receive my electronic copy in a matter of HOURS.


Back to my imaginary conversation with you, dear reader:

I’m talking about textbooks too!!

You can use the same interlibrary loan request process to request BOOKS, including TEXTBOOKS!

So, stop spending all your hard-earned money buying textbooks (unless you have already borrowed them and know you want to own a copy, then spend dat $$$) and use your library’s resources! Go find a friendly librarian and they can help you navigate your own university’s interlibrary loan system.

Keep grindin’ & #SAVEDATMONEY!


P.S. Planning on trying ILL for the first time? Comment below and share your experience? Let’s see who can save the most money… AND GO!

P.P.S. Here are some YouTube links on using interlibrary loan:


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