Tech, Now + Beyond

9 useful sites to help you save on your college textbooks

Sometimes the web is the procrastination from hell. Sometimes it's your greatest study aid.

For many college students, you need to create a whole a new section in your budget for purchasing textbooks. If you go through the school bookstores, they can be insanely expensive. Or some textbooks that you can only buy at your school bookstores, there is also an opposite end of the spectrum, which involves being able to find free online textbooks. Of course, the selection doesn’t cover all textbooks, and may cost you some time digging through various sites. But in the end all of these things may be worth it if you can save $100.

1. College Open Textbooks

This site is intended to be a resource for community college textbooks. It has 29 schools in its consortium. Navigating the website is simple, all information you need is organized in the helpful sidebar.

2. OpenStax

Unlike some of the other sites, this site only offers 13 books. But the advantage is that they are on very common topics that might be suitable for most introductory courses in math, science, US history, or sociology and psychology.

3. The Global Text Project

This site is the most diverse linguistically, offering some of it’s texts in English, Spanish, and Chinese. There aren’t many humanities texts, and you may have more luck with the social sciences or sciences, education, computer science and business. But the site helpfully specifies whether the textbooks are available as PDFs or in HTML format.

4. Saylor Academy Books

Saylor Academy offers online courses, and kindly publishes all of the textbooks that they use for their courses online as well. The 100+ options are arranged alphabetically by title, and come in PDF, DOC,  ePub, orTEX/LaTeX formats.

5. Flat World

Although the idea of a flat world seems heavily outdated, this site is anything but. It also boasts more than 110 textbooks in many different categories, including business and economics, Humanities and Social Sciences, Applied Sciences, Mathematics and the Sciences.

6. Project Gutenberg

Where other websites shirk a bit on the humanities end of things, Project Gutenberg has you covered. At least in terms of primary sources that are famous historic and literary books. This website offers over 50,000 free online books in multiple languages whose copyright licenses have expired.

7. Textbook Revolution

This site is student run, and offers textbooks in a variety of unusual formats. Some books are PDFs, some are e-books, and some are just multimedia sites with the same information at the textbooks. Hey, it’s all fine as long as you learn the materials, right?

8. Book Boon

This website lets you search for your textbooks in the search bar at the top, or allows you to look through categories in a navigation bar on the left side of the page. It allows you to download the books that it offers as PDFs.

9. Open Culture

This resource offers perhaps the highest number of books that are strictly textbooks on this list. It has 200 books, and claims to update its site often. Books are arranged by subject area, so you may need to do some scrolling or searching within your browser page to find what you’re looking for. But it’s still a useful resource despite the strange format.