Yep—college is expensive, and Columbia is no exception. Tuition, housing, and meal plans can add up, even if you don’t factor in another expense that is often underestimated is textbooks. Sure, you may have enrolled in that one lecture everyone is raving about, but maybe that $300 textbook from Book Culture is making you second-guess that decision (with good reason). We here at Spectrum believe that pricey textbooks shouldn’t be hindrance for any college student, so with that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of places where you can get textbooks for free or at a reduced price. That way, you can feel free to take absolutely any class you want.
Open Culture may be one of the lesser-known textbook sites, but it is by far one of the easiest to navigate. The free online PDF textbook selection is somewhat limited for many humanities-based courses, but when it comes to STEM classes, they’ve got you covered.
Another great way for finding cheap textbooks is Half Price Books, which has a massive textbook inventory that’s always growing. The selection of textbooks covers even the most niche subjects—from medieval history to cognitive development—so the chances that HPB has any of those obscure seminar textbooks are high.
Math textbooks are notorious for simultaneously being some of the priciest and most necessary, but Online Mathematics Textbooks (such an inventive name!) is a great resource for textbooks in calculus, stats, mathematical theory, and more.
One of the easiest ways to find more Columbia-specific textbooks is our very own Buy | Sell | Trade at Barnard, a Facebook group that I advise every single incoming first-year to join (yes, even guys). While the vast majority of Buy | Sell | Trade posts are clothes, at the beginning and end of every semester the page is swarmed by posts of students selling old textbooks at cheap prices. That’s not even the best part; sometimes, you don’t even have to travel outside of your own dorm to get everything you need for the semester.