6 Simple Ways to Get Free College Textbooks

6 Simple Ways to Get Free College Textbooks

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Did you know that you can get textbooks without spending a single dime?

That’s right, there are many ways to get a free textbook: you can find openly licensed textbooks online or get a free copy from your college. Some professors sometimes offer free college textbooks to their students at the beginning of the year.

Let me show you how it works.

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Get Free College Textbooks Online

I know that some of you will have a difficult time doing the above, especially if you’re working part-time to make ends meet. That’s I’ve also included ways to get a digital copy of your textbook without committing piracy.

1. Openly-Licensed College Textbooks

Here’s the deal: some websites provide you with top-quality openly licensed college textbooks.

Granted that your professor may ask for a specific book, you can always inquire if you can use an alternative openly licensed version of it published on any OER website (OER=Open Educational Resources).

Here is a list of the most popular OER websites where you can download college textbooks:

  • Bookboon – This website is one of the oldest OERs and has been around since 2005. It’s a massive library and gives you the option to explore over a thousand college textbooks for free! I strongly recommend this one if you’re only looking for a book and then focus on your studies.
  • OpenStax.org – Last on the list is the youngest of the three (established in 2011). Philanthropists such as Bill Gates back this organization and over 4,000 across the country use it. It’s quite the same as Bookboon but with a stronger emphasis on basic academic subjects such as Physics, Biology, Mathematics, Humanities, Sciences, etc. They have a vast collection of textbooks and other educational materials. The only caveat, however, is that not all of them are free.
  • OpenTextbookLibrary – The open textbook library is one the best websites to find free textbooks. They have a catalog of free and open-sourced textbooks.
  • IntechOpen – There are 2,000 free textbooks about computer science, robotics, and other STEM subjects. They also have some online mathematics textbooks.
  • MIT Online Textbooks – It is an open textbook library from the MIT Open Courseware. Some of these online textbooks are open-licensed electronic versions of print books. Others are self-published online books or course notes which are so thorough that they serve as an alternative to a conventional textbook.
  • Library Genesis – Library Genesis is a file-sharing website for scholarly articles, research papers from peer-reviewed journals, academic books, novels, comics, and magazines. It’s the best website to download college textbooks online. To download free textbooks, you need to enter specific information such as the author, ISBN, the year the book was published, etc.

2. Use Your Library WiFi to Access Free Textbooks Online

You would be surprised to find out that most libraries have an agreement with academic publishers. For example, Springer often has a deal with libraries that allow students to download as many technicals books as they want in PDF format.

To get access to this library of free college textbooks, you need to login into the library network using your student ID to log in on the library website. There is sometimes the possibility to access the library network from your house using a client such as Cisco anyconnect. For more information about how this works, you can contact the college librarian.

3. Use Social Media And Online Forums

Other than those popular and trustworthy websites, you always have the option to use social media. Explore Facebook groups in your university relevant to your study and reach out to people.

It’s a fun, easy, modern way to build connections with your colleagues. 

You may also join forums and seek a free textbook there.

Acquiring a Tangible Textbook

Let’s start with how to get a classic, old-fashioned textbook that you can touch. 

4. Scour Around Every Library Like Will Hunting

Let’s start with what most people ignore nowadays due to technology or just plain laziness — looking for your textbooks in school or public libraries. 

It’s super likely that your textbooks are available in the library. You only have to search for your books and borrow them first before anyone else. 

Yes, it’s extra work and responsibility, but it allows you to save thousands of dollars. Your payment is just an extra hour or two of library errands every other week. How bad can that be?

5. Befriend Your Seniors

Other than your library, you can get your textbooks for free if you have good connections with your seniors. If you have decent social skills, ask higher-year students if they still have their textbooks lying around (or a legal digital copy of it, at least).

Then, politely ask for it.

Sure, if they have no plans to give them away, then you can try and negotiate by merely borrowing them instead. The more active you are at building connections, the higher the chance of actually getting handy-down textbooks. 

What’s great about this strategy is that you can also give back to the community. 

You can do that by proactively looking for juniors who are also in need and passing your textbooks to them once you no longer require them. The willingness to participate in this practice is there, but because college students are super busy, it’s rare for this to happen. 

However, if you have the guts, you can surely dedicate your weekends looking for seniors that can help you out. 

6. Talk to Your College Professors at the Start of the Semester

College professors are busy, but they are sincere in helping students out. 

Approach them before the semester has even started, and they will likely endorse you to a university program that helps students get used textbooks from other students for free.

Most of these are inter-school programs, meaning that the books you’ll get may come from a different university. Thus, it takes a bit more time to set you up with a book donor. 

If you do this during the semester, they might already be unavailable to assist you — so time is of the essence. 

Final words

Formal education is expensive.

However, there are some ways to download free books and save money. As mentioned above, it is easier to get access to online pdf textbooks for engineers and mathematicians. For social sciences, such as humanities and arts students, the best way to get a textbook might be to befriend an older classmate or a professor.

As long as you persevere, continue working hard, and avoid procrastinating, I’m confident that you will turn your dream into reality.

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