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Textbook Tips: Home

A guide with various tips for finding course materials in an affordable, accessible manner.


It's no secret that textbooks are expensive, but there are often ways to save money. Whether you buy them from the bookstore, rent them online, or swap them with a friend, we want to help you find your textbooks in the most accessible, affordable way possible. This guide contains tips, tricks, and strategies for making the most of your time and money when searching for and purchasing textbooks as well as other course materials. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about affordable course materials, feel free to contact Janelle Wertzberger (jwertzbe@gettysburg,edu), Assistant Dean and Director of Scholarly Communications or Mary Elmquist (, Scholarly Communications Librarian.


The information contained here is not exhaustive and students are encouraged to research other options for acquiring textbooks. Before purchasing materials, ask your professor if the version/edition of the textbook you select can be used for class.

Best Practices

Here are a few tips and strategies to follow when searching for and acquiring textbooks:

  • Search by ISBN number to find your textbooks. Searching by title, author, or edition/year of publication may give you results, but searching by ISBN number will provide an exact match for the unique version of the textbook you need.
  • Shop around using price comparison tools like or to find the best deal. Remember to factor shipping fees and buyback value into the total cost.
  • Think realistically about how you will use the textbook. Given your major, should you buy or rent your textbooks? Should you buy/rent a brand new book or is a well-maintained used copy a viable option? Is it realistic to share a textbook with a classmate and, if so, how will you make sure you both have the book when you need it? 
  • Pay attention to policies for renting and returning textbooks, especially when your books need to be shipped back to another location. Shipping may take longer than anticipated and late fees can be expensive, so make sure you return your textbooks well in advance of the rental company's deadline.
  • It doesn't hurt to ask your professor if you can use an older or cheaper edition of the textbook, especially if it's nearly identical to the assigned edition. Some professors may allow this and some may not, but it helps to know your options.
  • If you need accessible reading materials as an accommodation for a disability, regardless of whether you're looking to rent or buy them, the Office of Academic Advising will help you to acquire the titles and technology you need.

Need more tips? Check out this blog post titled "Handy Bookstore Tips" for an overview of similar strategies.

Suggestions for this guide?

Do you have suggestions for other resources or strategies that should be added to this guide? Are there errors that need to be corrected or links that no longer work? Please send all feedback to Sarah Appedu (, Scholarly Communications Assistant.