There are many reasons that college is one of the best times in your young adult life, but financial reasons definitely don’t make the list! College is expensive. You’ll need to pay for your tuition, housing, equipment, and living costs whilst still having enough time to actually study. Finding cheap or (even better) free college textbooks can help to ease your financial burden.

20 Ways to Get Free College Textbooks

Let’s check out the 20 effective ways to get free college textbook.

1. Google

Every seasoned student knows that Google is your first port of call in any situation. There are Google eBook resources (explored further down) but a quick and simple way to find the books you need is to use the ‘filetype’ command. Put ”filetype:pdf” followed by the name of the book in quotation marks. It will look something like this: filetype:pdf “microeconomics”. You can also search by author.



Founded by Rice University in 2011 and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation amongst others, Openstax is a popular eBook site which continues to grow and diversify. In 2017 Openstax partnered with UK Open Textbooks to provide open content to the UK as well as the US. All of the books available on Openstax are completely free and offer a variety of subjects including Science, Psychology, Math and History.


3. Wikibooks

Another popular site amongst students, Wikibooks is an online community project, sharing thousands of textbooks and other educational books. Be aware that this is a volunteer-run service and anyone is able to add to or annotate texts so that although this is a good service for learning, it is always a good idea to fact check.


4. InTech

Created by scientists for scientists, InTech is endorsed by leading citation index Web of Science, meaning that journals and eBooks here come with a ring of authenticity. InTech boasts a community of 116,000 academic authors and editors, and is an excellent resource for students studying in any scientific field.


5. Scribd

One of the simpler and more visually appealing sites on the list, Scribd offers a range of user-contributed content including books, audiobooks and magazines. Perhaps less academic than some others, the site is still a great educational resource thanks to the excellent variety of media available.


6. Amazon Textbooks

Although not free, Amazon Textbooks provides a huge library of textbooks for all subjects, and offers some of the biggest discounts online. Used books are available as well as rental options, and reviews help students to choose the right option for them.


7. Bookboon

One of the world’s most popular free textbook resources, thanks to its wide range of books specializing in math, science, business and technology. Bookboon is great for those moving on from college as well, with many resources focused on finding work, interview skills and even personal development.


8. Reddit User Submissions

There are subreddits available on Reddit which enable students to list any books they have finished with and don’t mind passing on or PDFs of the same. You can also post asking for books you are looking for and having trouble finding, and general advice from other users.


9. College Open Textbooks

Geared towards community college students, College Open Textbooks boasts more than 600 open or affordable textbooks across subjects including art, engineering, nursing and law. Texts have been peer-reviewed, helping students to choose the right book for them and avoid wasting time on books which might not be helpful.


10. Curriki

Offers textbooks, curated lessons, an interactive community and helpful learning resources. Curriki aims to bridge the gap between those who can afford higher education and those who can’t, providing free and affordable educational resources which are in line with the current curriculum. Teachers and students can collaborate in private groups or share their ideas with the wider community, making Curriki a popular option with educators as well as students.


11. Online Mathematics Textbooks

A comprehensive list of mathematics books and texts, compiled by professors from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Although this one may not be as up to date as some others, it features useful and relevant math resources for students studying a range of mathematics-based subjects.


12. Saylor Academy

Easy to use and navigate, Saylor Academy features textbooks which are available on open licenses, meaning that students and teachers are able to share content with each other and other users. Books are available on HTML, PDF and DocX formats so that they can be accessed via computers and phones, or easily printed out, making them accessible for everyone. Textbooks are arranged by subject so that it is quick and simple to find what you are looking for.

Saylor Academy.

13. Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is one of the internet’s biggest and most popular free eBook sites. Put together and maintained entirely by volunteers, there are more than 45,000 books available in ePub, HTML, Kindle and simple text formats so that they are all easily accessible by anyone. The books on Project Gutenberg are completely free as there is no registration or contract required.


14. School social media pages

A back-to-basics way to get your books for a large discount, or even for free, is to get onto the various social media groups and pages for your school and course. Often at the beginning or end of each year, students will advertise their old books to those in the year below them, offering a cheap and environmentally friendly way to get your new textbooks. Make sure that you check with your tutors what books you will need for the upcoming year before you decide to take books from someone in the year above you, though.


15. LibriVox

Give your eyes a rest and try audio textbooks instead! LibriVox offers a range of books in the public domain, including educational books, which are read by volunteers from around the world. Many students find it easier to take in information if they are listening to it, rather than reading, so why not use LibriVox to make your commute into college as useful as the time you spend in class.


16. Textbook Revolution

Textbook Revolution is a student-run site dedicated to encouraging teachers to use free resources in the classroom, and giving students easy access to free materials. For poorer students and teachers looking to make their classes more accessible, this is an invaluable resource. Textbook Revolution provides links to full textbooks and helpful reviews of these texts, as well as other educational materials.


17. Try the library

There is bound to be a University or College library which you can access to borrow books and other resources for free. There may be digital and physical books available, and you will be able to borrow these for an allotted amount of time. If you can’t access the books that you need at your college, you could also try the city library. The selection there may not be as good, but it is always worth having a look to see what is available.


18. Google eBookstore

Google Play Books have a variety of books available to read for free, including classic novels and educational books. There is a further, larger selection of books which are not free, but which can be rented for a nominal fee. One of the benefits of Google Play is that you can download these books to your phone in seconds so that you are able to have these texts with you wherever you are.

google play books

19. Online Library of Liberty

A comprehensive library of textbooks and other scholarly works pertaining to the subject of liberty and free markets. Although obviously very specialized, this resource is perfect for students studying economics and government subjects, or who need more information on these subjects for any other course.


20. ManyBooks

One of the wonderful things about ManyBooks is that it offers a wide range of different formats including large print PDF and iPod notes, making these texts accessible to students of all requirements. ManyBooks offers a comprehensive list of books on a variety of subjects and is easy to use and navigate.

10 Links to Get Free College Textbooks

10+ Links For You To Get Free College Textbooks



Perhaps you are trying to keep the costs of your studies down, or just want access to a wide variety of resources without having to pay for books and texts that aren’t relevant to you. Either way, these free textbook sites and ideas are a great solution. You might not find everything that you need by using these options alone. But with a little bit of clever research and help from the internet, you should be able to dramatically decrease the amount of money you need to spend on your college textbooks over the course of your studies.