8 Places College Students Read For Free

Did you know students pay an average of $1,240 a year between school supplies and textbooks? A 2019 report by educational supplier Follet showed an increase in textbook prices of 812% since 1978. That’s crazy!

It’s also a major deterrent to cash-strapped students trying to afford school. But here’s the secret bookstores don’t want you to know: there are places where college students can access textbooks for FREE. Before you drop your entire yearly budget on supplies, consider these free book resource options.

#1 Your Local Library

Check with your local and university libraries first to see if they have your textbooks available for check-out. Just be aware that these books are sometimes available only as short-term loans. What does that mean? You’ll have to read them and leave them in the library so the books will be available to other students. 

You won’t be able to take them with you, but this could still be a good option if you have the time to stop, read and take notes while you study. You could also make copies if your school offers access to such services.

#2 Book Swap

Check around your area and see if there are any book swaps in operation. Many universities offer online book exchanges where you can swap your used textbook for another one you’ll need. This option will have you getting your books for free, and it’ll help other students out, too.

#3 Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg offers over 43,000 FREE ebooks for students. You might be out of luck if you’re studying current events, as the only books available are ones with expired copyrights. But they’re still an incredibly valuable resource, especially if you’re studying past events. You might even find your textbook is still available! Check it out for your history and literature classes.

#4 Google eBookstore

Check out Google’s eBookstore for free digital titles. You may find your textbook makes the list! You can easily find literary classics available here, too, but it never hurts to check to see if your textbook is offered.

#5 Open Library

Open Library is an online collection of free digital books. Given that they have nearly one million options available, it’s easy to find info on a TON of different subjects. While there are, in some cases, textbooks available, this is a better resource for fiction, non-fiction biographies, and just plain fun reading. Just search by title, subject, or author.

#6 LibriVox

LibriVox is perfect if you need an audio version of a book instead of a digital ebook copy. For this reason, it may also be ideal for strapped students who struggle with vision issues, headaches from screen time, or chronic multitasking. Check out the free books available to see if the one you need made the list. It’s a great option for listening on the go or during a commute, too!

#7 Rent From Local Bookstores

Both Amazon and Barnes and Noble have textbook rentals available. Consider this option instead of paying full cost for a textbook that you can’t find used or for trade elsewhere. It’s not exactly free, per se… but it could still save you a ton of money if the other options just aren’t available.

#8 ManyBooks

Check out the free and deeply discounted books on ManyBooks. With 50,000 different options, there’s a little something here for everyone. So, be sure to check to see if your required reading is on the site. You might be surprised by the selection!

School is expensive enough without going broke on textbooks. With these resources, you won’t have to. Sign up for the classes you want, and search for FREE and deeply discounted textbooks online. Who knows? You may find that every single book you need is available at no cost to you.