The Internet may be the information superhighway, but you’ll still have to purchase required textbooks even though you’re taking a college course online instead of on campus. The good news is that you have plenty of options for finding and purchasing textbooks for an online course, some of which can help you save money and make college more affordable.

Buying Directly from Your School

Often, the easiest way to get textbooks is to buy them directly from your school. Most traditional schools have a physical bookstore location on campus where students can go to purchase textbooks. If your online school has a brick-and-mortar location, there’s a good chance that it will encourage students to buy from its bookstore, either in person or online. Even if your college has no traditional campus, it may still have a virtual bookstore where you can buy textbooks online.

Colleges prefer students to buy textbooks directly from them because the school gets to keep the profit. In fact, some schools require students to visit the school bookstore’s website just to learn which books they need. While it may be easier to purchase textbooks from your school, remember that you can buy your books from a third party, instead. In fact, purchasing your books from a retailer other than your school bookstore is the first rule for cutting the cost of college textbooks, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Cost-Saving Tips for Buying Textbooks

College textbooks are so expensive that students can easily spend several hundred dollars on textbooks in a single semester. Fortunately, there are some ways online college students can cut the costs of their education, including their textbooks. One way students can save on textbooks is by choosing to buy used books rather than new books whenever possible. Buying used could potentially save you up to 50 percent compared to the cost of new books, according to If you sell your used book to another student or to a retailer at the end of the semester, you can then recoup some of the money you spent on it.

Another option is to not actually buy the book – instead, rent it from one of the many textbook rental services available online or find out if your school or local library has a copy you could check out for an extended period of time. You might also be able to save money by opting for an electronic version of the book. To maximize your savings, shop around to find out which option and retailer makes the most sense for you.

Online courses require students to have access to various types of course materials, including the same kinds of textbooks you would need to have for a traditional course. You can get your textbooks from your school bookstore, online and brick-and-mortar retailers, libraries, or textbook rental services. Smart shoppers can decrease the cost of their education by saving money on textbooks.