11 of the Best Ways To Get Free College Textbooks

Are you struggling with college costs? Here are some of the best ways to get free college textbooks.

College is expensive! Besides the cost of tuition, supplies and textbooks can add a significant amount to your bill.

According to a  survey done by the College Board, the average full-time, on-campus undergraduate at a four-year school spent an estimated $1,240 on books and supplies during the 2020-2021 academic year. That is a lot of money!

Any college student will tell you that one of the most challenging parts of college is the expensive textbook costs. Some university textbooks might be a book you use for one semester and then never open again!

These textbooks are often required to pass the class, and your professor will expect you to have them whether you can afford them or not. So, if you need help getting a free college textbook, here are eleven ways to get free college textbooks. 

The Best Ways To Get Free College Textbooks


The Bill and Melinda Gates help fund this non-profit, which helps students get free digital textbooks. Bill Gates donated his textbooks here, and it has become a go-to place for any college student needing a textbook.

Open Stax was founded in 2011 by Rice University. It provides general course textbooks ranging from biology to pre-calc.

OpenStax is committed to offering educational access to all students and providing low-cost technology for students and free textbooks. Of all the options, OpenStax is the most legit place to get free textbooks, so check this one out first!



This website offers a wide variety of textbooks for free. It also includes books on career development, such as internship advice and even how you can manage stress. To get your books, you have to fill out a short form.

They have hundreds of free college textbooks that you can use. This site should be one of your first stops when you receive your booklist from your professor.


Textbook Revolution

This website offers books mainly related to STEM subjects. However, you can also find business textbooks, history books, and other options there. In addition, you can browse the book by subject, topic, or even license.

Some textbooks are available in PDF files, some are e-books that you can use online, and they also have websites with different course materials and multimedia content that you may need.

Textbook Revolution

Library Genesis

This site is a file-sharing website for all things free. The catalog is massive, and it’s not the most user-friendly layout. However, you can use it as a search engine like you would on any online library, and you can find all types of content here using their simple search options.

Library Genesis


Also known as zlib, this place is a great way to find college textbooks. It was created as a shadow library for peer-reviewed journals and other content and has since expanded to include textbooks. They also have many articles that you may need for some of your classes.


Project Gutenberg

This free library has a shocking amount of ready-to-download textbooks. You can even find actual books there, making this a great site for English majors who have classes that need physical copies of books.

Project Gutenberg focuses on books with expired copyrights so that you won’t find textbooks published recently, but it is an excellent resource for classics in the public domain.


Open Textbook Library

This ever-growing catalog caters to students of all degrees and includes peer-reviewed textbooks on an easy-to-use platform.

Authors and publishers license open textbooks to be freely used and changed. Therefore, they are free to download, edit, and distribute.

Your College or University’s Library

Most libraries will have all the books required for your courses. Before the semester begins, get to your library and see if your library has the titles you need. You can’t highlight or make notes in them, but you can get a physical copy of your book for free!

AACC Bookstore eTextbooks

Get free digital textbooks and study versions in an easy-to-print PDF format. These books must be public domain or royalty-free, so use this site cautiously.

They also have free textbooks in DSV (digital study versions) format.

AACC Bookstore eTextbooks

PDF Drive

They have new books with different titles each week. So if you need to check out books for your English classes and other textbook needs, this is an excellent site option to use. Just note that there is a wait to download some titles.

Al the books are available in pdf format only.

PDF Drive

Ask Previous Students

Many college textbooks are a one-use type of product. That means students don’t need these textbooks after they complete the semester or class. However, you can ask previous students if they have textbooks they are willing to give or lend to you for free. You can do this by connecting on Social Media, posting in Buy Nothing groups, or simply asking around the dorm or college campus.

The important thing to know before getting free college textbooks: 

Whenever looking for free books online, especially with sites that use file-sharing to get free textbooks, it is important to remember that not all sites have the rights or copyrights to provide these textbooks for free. They may have pirated copies of textbooks uploaded. Using pirated copies means that the authors and publishers are not paid when you use the textbooks. Additionally, colleges may have problems with students using pirated copies of textbooks if they are found it. Please use these sites with caution.


If you are ready to save some money on your college education, textbooks are a great place to start! With these resources, you can still study hard for your tests without spending hundreds on a college book you will use for only one semester.

If you cannot find the right textbook for free and have to buy a used textbook or a new one to use for your class, then consider selling your textbook at the end of the semester to recoup some of your money! Use this site to find the Best Places to Sell Your Textbooks for the Most Money.

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Hi! I am a millennial mom with a passion for personal finance. I have always been “into” personal finance but got inspired to start my blog after a period of extended unemployment. That experience really changed the way I viewed my relationship with money and the importance of accessible personal finance education.

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