5 Ways to Find Cheap Nursing Textbooks for School

Gayle Morris, MSN
Updated March 13, 2023
    Nursing textbooks are expensive. Use these five ways to lower your cost and potentially recoup some of your expenses at the end of the semester.
    Featured ImageCredit: FatCamera / Getty Images
    • Depending on the semester and the school, your nursing textbooks can cost $500-$900 each semester.
    • It is possible to purchase them at a reduced cost and recoup some of your expenses at the end of each semester.
    • Consider these five strategies that can help reduce costs associated with nursing school textbooks.

    Textbooks for nursing school can be expensive. Depending on the semester and the school, your nursing textbooks can cost $500-$900 each semester. Each textbook plays a role in laying the foundation for your knowledge of patient care, diagnoses, illness prevention, and advocacy.

    Although they are essential, it is possible to purchase textbooks at a reduced cost and sell them at the end of the semester to lower your expenses. Buying new books and not reselling them can add $4,000-$7,200 to your overall nursing school budget.

    Explore five ways you can find cheap/reduced cost textbooks for nursing school.

    What You’ll Need Before Searching for Nursing School Textbooks

    It’s important to start your search for textbooks as soon as you get your syllabi — the sooner the better. However, before diving into how to find low-cost nursing textbooks, consider the following.

    Make a list of the textbooks you’ll need and keep it handy. You never know when you’ll find a deal on a book or another nursing student selling their nursing textbooks. Take a look at this checklist and be sure you know exactly what you need before paying for your nursing textbooks this semester.

    • Name of the class and course number
    • Name of the book
    • Book edition and ISBN number (Ask your professor if an older edition will work.)
    • Any accompanying textbooks, such as workbooks
    • Required vs. optional textbooks
    • Possibility of sharing textbooks with several classmates
    • Possibility of using the book for later classes (Ask a senior student.)
    • Buyback program at the campus bookstore for nursing textbooks and its requirements
    • Textbook rentals

    How to Find Cheap/Low-Cost Nursing School Textbooks

    After you know which books you need, it’s time to start looking for cheap nursing textbooks to reduce your nursing school expenses. Consider these five ways you can lower the cost of your nursing textbooks.

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    1. 1

      Rent from Amazon

      Amazon will discontinue its print textbook rental program on April 1, 2023, but you can rent digital textbooks which can still save you money. Amazon’s rental portal allows you to enter your textbook’s title, author, or ISBN number so you can choose from the books available.

      You also have the option of buying a new or used book instead of renting. Rental books are available for one semester at a time. Certain books can be rented monthly. The book details page on Amazon lets you know what the rental periods are for your book.

      For digital rentals, click add to cart, pay for the rental, and you will have access to the book for a limited time.

    2. 2

      Choose a Digital Copy

      As with all options, there are advantages and disadvantages to digital copies of nursing textbooks. For example, you can carry the textbook wherever you go as long as you have a digital device with you. These textbooks are less expensive since the book publisher does not have the added cost of printing the book.

      When purchasing a digital book on Amazon, it can be delivered to your Kindle account, which you can access on a tablet or computer. Additionally, you are not limited to one book distributor for digital textbooks. In some cases, you also may be able to rent a digital textbook for a semester.

      Rented digital textbooks are accessed on the book distributor’s website and at the end of the semester you no longer have access to the online account. However, while this can reduce your costs, for many people, a digital publication may not align with a nursing student’s learning style when compared to a hard copy.

    3. 3

      Purchase Used Books From Fellow Nursing Students

      Purchasing a used textbook is a decades-long strategy that college students have used to reduce their costs. While your campus bookstore may sell used books, the price is often much higher than the cost from a fellow nursing student.

      Some nursing programs have a Facebook page where students can connect to purchase necessary textbooks. Others have bulletin boards, either physical or digital, where students can post their textbooks for sale. When buying from a fellow nursing student, be sure that you’re getting the correct edition or that the professor tells you that an older edition will still have the necessary information.

    4. 4

      Purchase Used Books From an Online Marketplace

      There are several online marketplaces where cheap nursing textbooks can be found. Even if your nursing program does not offer a Facebook page for students, Facebook Marketplace is an option where you can buy and sell used textbooks.

      Other online marketplaces include eBay, LetGo, Thrift Books, and BooksRun. Whenever purchasing anything online, always take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your information.

    5. 5

      Use the School Library

      In some cases, you may be able to use your school library. Many libraries carry the required nursing textbooks and will lend them during the semester. To do this successfully, you must check it out at least two weeks before the semester starts to avoid other people trying to get the book.

      While it is cost-effective, you may not be able to check it out for the whole semester. Using books from the school library may be a stopgap until you can find a used book in an online marketplace or rent a book from an online distributor.

    How to Save Money on Nursing School Textbooks

    If you bought your nursing textbooks, consider selling or trading your books to help save money at the end of the semester. Your campus bookstore is one place that usually purchases used books. However, if your nursing instructor is changing editions next semester, the campus bookstore will likely not purchase the book.

    You might sell your book to a fellow nursing student, on Facebook Marketplace, or other online marketplaces. Another option is to trade books with fellow nursing students. While all nursing students take sequential classes in order, not all classes have sequential options. This gives you the opportunity to trade books with other students.

    While finding cheap nursing textbooks is one way of cutting your college costs, it’s also important to be careful and practice good safety strategies when you’re purchasing textbooks. Pay close attention to your personal safety. When you’re meeting with anyone, take a buddy or be sure you are meeting in a public place.

    Finally, ensure that you are purchasing the correct edition of the nursing textbook. While many different editions may have the same cover, different editions can have different content.