Used Text Books

Getting used text books is one of the most important parts of any college student’s semester. Often, being the first in line for buying these limited books is one of the keys to a happy school-year. You can literally save hundreds of dollars buying used text books over the brand new; and that often means that you have more pizza and beer money to survive the rest of the semester with.

The Financial Implications of Used Text Books

In fact, getting second hand text books is sometimes a financial necessity rather than a option. With over $500 in books usually required in most American Universities, the costs of not getting in on these sales items can be severe. They may require you to take extra student loans, which add up significantly over time; and can impact your health and wellness as you go through the semester.

One of my best friends found himself out of money with a significant portion of the semester left to go, and his parents were unable to contribute more to his living funds. What he ended up doing was living off of ramen noodles and saltine crackers, a common college student fix. By the time finals rolled around, he was so physically weak from his diet that he could barely walk to class. During the week of finals, he was sick, and failed two of his four classes. It took him a good two weeks to recover.

While this story may be one more about bad decisions than used text books; the implications are clear: money is scarce enough for college students even if they get half-priced used books.

The Academic Implications of Used Text Books

There is evidence that a second hand text book can be beneficial; especially if you find a book used by some one who has made margin notes and highlight text.

While some students will complain about having a pre-highlighted book with notes in the margins, studies have shown that highlighting in textbooks can actually improve your reading comprehension. Almost all college students have been shown to be very good at reading comprehension, and therefore they also show proficiency at locating the topic sentences and main ideas. Having these pre-outlined books is a great benefit to your ability to speed read the topics and do less work for the same intake of information.

Having all of these underlines is one thing, but occasionally you can also find old final exam review sheets. Notes about questions on tests, information on what assignments teachers will require, and even someone’s old final exams. This is a huge advantage, and one that should not be overlooked.


Overall, no student should be left out of the sweepstakes when it comes to buying 2nd hand text books. Get to your school’s bookstore early, and make sure you grab them as quickly as possible. If you can’t do that, think about buying your cheap text books online. To do this simply write down the title, ISBN number and author of the books you need, and do a quick search on Amazon.