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By: Teresa Abby

A naive college freshman sits in front of a computer screen, staring dejectedly at the thousands of dollars they owe in college semester fees. Student aid couldn’t cover the entire semester. CSUF students, at the very least, are paying for tuition, campus health facilities, a Student Success Fee and a Campus Union fee. This naive freshman paid for all of this and more.


Colleges do everything in their power to wring every last cent out of students. It starts with the tuition fees, continues with $300 parking passes and ends in the on-campus bookstore.


“As a first-year at college you take the advice given to you right away,” said Arleen Cortes, a fourth-year public relations major. “Usually, my professors would say you can find their books at the bookstore.”


This, ladies and gentlemen, is a trap. Take this opportunity to ignore what your professor says. The college bookstore will sell to you at the highest possible price. Some have rental options, but even those prices run high.

Don’t Give Up


There are dozens of options to be discovered on the internet. Several online sellers will offer textbooks for sale, rent or download for reasonable prices. All you need to do is some online digging.


“I purchase books online through Amazon or other sites, sometimes used or new bookstores near my area,” said Neyda Campos, a fourth-year public relations major. “I found websites through friends, Reddit and other media apps like TikTok. They have videos where people ask where to find books.”


Purchasing textbooks through alternative methods can save you hundreds of dollars. Someone once shared their e-book with my entire class, and after splitting the cost, I only spent $3 total. 


Don’t Pre-Order Books


A first-year college student might think they are getting a leg-up on the semester by ordering books in advance, but that isn’t always the case. It results in half of the books never being used, while the other half could’ve been bought outside the campus bookstore for half the price. Wait for the semester to start. There’s a good chance your professor tells you not to even buy the recommended textbook.


“Professor’s will (sometimes) advocate for you to find cheaper books,” Cortes said. “They help by posting websites on their discussion boards. That’s where I found my two Amazon e-books, and on the plus side, it’s a lot easier to have them in your pocket.”



A website worth looking into is SlugBooks. They advocate a cheaper collection of college textbooks and price match with sites like Amazon and Chegg. The website offers the original listing price, then shows cheaper listing options, or you could choose to rent. And at the end of the semester, you can sell your textbook, which means you could make all your money back.


“I usually download my books from SlugBooks, which I found on Instagram,” said Edith Segura, a fourth-year public relations major. “I prefer e-books because it is easier to search through than the physical copies. Not to mention a lot cheaper.”



Another website available is called BooksScouter. Type the title of the book you need into their search engine, and it’ll scan the internet for available copies. It provides a list of options for you to buy, ranging from least to most expensive. There are dozens of options to choose from. Like SlugBooks, this website offers you the ability to sell your textbook.

Stay Legal

Sometimes there’s no alternative website. Google the title of your textbook — you might find a PDF version. This allows you to download all your textbooks for free. However, there are some risks to this method. Not all downloadable versions are what you would call legal. Sites like Library Genesis offer free versions of textbooks that would otherwise cost you $200. Using such websites could create legal ramifications due to copyright. I certainly, 100%, don’t recommend this website. Don’t follow this link It could be very dangerous.