To be frank, college is expensive. There are tuition payments, dining plans, dorming, potential health insurance fees, lab fees, and more. On top of these payments, classes are going to require textbooks.
There are many options for saving money on textbooks: buying used books, renting online, or borrowing from a friend. Textbooks can cost upwards of 100 dollars, and with a full course load, that would be 500 dollars per semester!
Obtaining textbooks without having to pay outrageous prices is possible: download free textbooks online.
These are credible resources for downloading textbooks online. Some offer PDF downloads that you can save to your desktop. On my MacBook Pro, I’ve downloaded PDF textbooks and saved them to my iBooks for easy access. You could also save PDFs to the Kindle App.
Check out these best websites to download free college textbooks online!
- Library Genesis
- Open Textbook Library
- Free Book Spot
- PDF Grab
- Project Gutenberg
- Google Scholar
- Textbook Revolution
- Digital Book Index
- Many Books
Bookboon is an online platform for ebooks and online textbooks. Their library includes over a thousand free textbooks for students by leading professors.
This website is best suited for business and professional studies. A lot of their library is dedicated to business, marketing, economics, and finance textbooks.
As a student, you get free access to Bookboon. To sign up, create an account with your university-associated email and create a password.
Select topics of interest, such as the types of courses you’re taking or refine by your major. With the free student subscription, you get access to free textbooks online; however, the site will show you advertisements.
If desired, you can upgrade to the paid subscription plans, where you get ad-free browsing and access to audio learning. Check it out here.
My college friends and I relied on this website throughout our semesters online. Library Genesis is more than one website for downloading free textbooks online; it’s an entire database.
On Library Genesis, you get free access to textbook downloads. This website does not require an account to use. Under the topics header, you can refine your search by subject.
Search not only by title and author but also ISBN, publisher, year and language. Searching by ISBN is the most effective search method because it directly searches for the edition you need.
Library Genesis is my preferred free textbook search engine because I have always been able to find the textbooks that I need.
Another site that offers free textbooks for download is Open Textbook Library. As the site explains, open textbooks are free to use and download.
You can search the site through subjects like humanities, law and mass media. The site has adapted textbooks as ebooks and even features a list of sources in development.
Textbooks are available for download as a PDF or EPUB. Attached to the posting of each textbook are reviews, the table of contents and information about the author.
This site is best suited for textbooks in the social sciences, as there is a larger selection of textbooks for humanities-related fields than STEM-related fields.
Browsing through their library, many textbooks appear to be introductory level to many different topics. Open Textbook Library does not have as wide a library as other sites mentioned throughout this article, but it is worth the search. Check it out here.
Free Book Spot is a typical example of a free textbook download website. When you open the homepage, you may be turned off by the blue links and many ads.
But this source is incredibly reliable. My art history classes tend to use published books instead of textbooks to guide the course, and when I couldn’t find a required book on Amazon, I was able to find it here (Realism by Linda Nochlin, a wonderful read!).
On Free Book Spot, you can search by title, author, ISBN, and language. The search will generate a table of results featuring the cover of the book and the year the file was updated.
Both of these features are greatly appreciated by me as someone who wants to ensure I’m using the correct textbook edition. Free Book Spot is also more than just a free textbook online site; it holds many regular books as well. You can download books on astrology, drawing, and even playing cards. Check it out here.
On PDF Grab, you can search for free textbooks online by title or ISBN. As I mentioned, ISBN will always be my preferred method of search.
If your professor does not provide the ISBN to the textbook, search for the book on Google, and the ISBN will be attached to any site where the book is available for purchase, such as Amazon. When you search your textbook, the results will show the cover of the textbook and a summary of the book.
There will be a download link to click on the PDF. I like this site because the results are very straightforward. The layout is simple and user-friendly.
Another great website that provides free books online is Project Gutenberg. With a focus on ebooks, Project Gutenberg has a massive online library.
Many classes in college will require books written by prominent members of the field of study to guide assignments. Working on research papers, it can be difficult to find certain books or articles pertaining to specific subjects.
Project Gutenberg houses many online books, so you’re bound to find what you’re looking for. At the bottom of the homepage, click the “Search and browse” option to open the advanced search settings.
Project Gutenberg’s search engine is very sensitive to the words you select. Be as specific as you can when searching for a book. Check it out here.
Not only does Stuvera offer access to free textbooks online, but you can also download audiobooks and study. The online learning section offers courses in many different subjects.
For example, they have a course on Ancient Egypt from the University of Pennsylvania. The course breaks down study projects by week and accesses movies and assignments for you to practice on.
Stuvera is a great resource to help you prepare for your courses. You can use the online learning section to get ahead in upcoming classes or use it to test your knowledge as a study tool.
To download from Stuvera, you can register for a free account. My favorite aspect of using Stuvera is the online learning feature because it gives you an edge on new subjects. Check it out here.
A website that many seem to overlook when trying to find free textbooks online is Google Scholar. With Google Scholar, you can access a multitude of academic articles and journals.
Many of my humanities courses will require supplemental readings through academic journals. Websites like JSTOR require a subscription through your university or institution.
If your school does not have access to a certain article, Google Scholar is a great resource to access. You can also save and store your reading material easily with your school-associated Gmail account, which many universities use.
When you search on Google Scholar, there will be an indication next to titles if the result is an article, book, PDF, or another file type. Google is where many searches for free textbooks online start, but it is just as valuable of a resource as any other site mentioned. Check it out here.
OpenStax is a truly advanced site for free textbooks online. With OpenStax, you get access to a multitude of free books. Additionally, you can take notes and highlight them directly on OpenStax’s online textbooks.
OpenStax is a part of Rice University, which is a nonprofit organization for furthering financial access to education.
OpenStax textbooks range from high school level to AP course level to college level. Textbooks are created by OpenStax for free and readily accessible use.
Browse the site by subject and download type. With a subject like math, the calculus textbook that is free on OpenStax will provide the same information as one your professor tells you to purchase.
OpenStax is reliable for learning, however, it is not a search engine for textbooks required by your course (unless your professor is using OpenStax textbooks to teach their course). OpenStax is ideal for that extra support in a subject.
Check it out here.
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Textbook Revolution is a great site for finding textbooks. What I love about this site is that it is student-led. As a site run by students, they understand their audience.
Begin your search in the free books and textbooks section. If you cannot find what you are looking for there, Textbook Revolution has another search bar that shows the least expensive options for purchasing textbooks.
My only critique with the site is that some books are outdated editions. When you search for a book or textbook through the priced option, numerous options for your textbook appear.
Options include books for rental, buying new and buying used books. On Textbook Revolution, you can also submit a book to be posted, contributing to the next student in need of a free textbook online. Check it out here.
Bookyards is another platform whereby you can access free textbooks online. With Bookyards, you can search for your textbook by author, title, subject, and more.
The site also offers browsing by author or category. Their extensive library includes books on cooking, games, languages, culture, and sports.
Bookyards uses ad revenue to pay for the site, keeping their downloads free. On their blog page, Bookyards compiles free links to stories by famous authors.
Some recent posts include pages dedicated to Confucious and Joseph Conrad! You can follow Bookyards on their social media pages for updates to their library. Check it out here.
Unlike other online libraries, eBookLobby does not have a search bar feature. Instead, you can browse their collection by categories.
Next to each category is the number of books available for download. Their library is on the smaller side; however, it can be a helpful resource if you’re struggling to find a book elsewhere.
This website is unique for the way they structure their library. While browsing for your necessary textbook, you can check out their cookbook section! Their largest selections per category would be computers, biographies, and art.
Be sure to check out eBookLobby the next time you wish to download free textbooks.
Exclusively dedicated to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, FreeTechBooks is a platform for free access to science resources like textbooks, lecture notes, and other books.
Because this site is dedicated to one area of study, it is a great resource for narrowing down your search for free textbooks online.
You can browse their library by category, author, publisher, and even by popular downloads. If only I knew of this website when I was struggling with my pre-calculus homework.
This platform is extremely organized, with subcategories under each heading. From resources on scripting and programming to operating an iPhone or artificial intelligence, FreeTechBooks has an impressive library to offer.
Check out here.
Digital Book Index is unlike any other platform listed. The website has access to an abundance of free texts. Their subject search is very impressive. To browse this section, you can use ctrl+F to search for keywords on the page.
Under the author/title search, there is a key that teaches the best way to search their site. For example, search authors by their first name (the “begins with” function) or put titles in quotations (to search titles that contain specific keywords).
Digital Book Index is a great resource for historical texts. With an abundance of ebooks and a search section dedicated to classic authors throughout time and across the globe, Digital Book Index is a wonderful source for humanities and history students.
As one myself, I will definitely be returning to this source for future research papers! Check it out here.
Like their branding states, Many Books houses many, many books. Many Books is essentially an online library, housing all genres of texts. From mystery to horror to children’s books, Many Books has it all.
Search for your desired text in the top search bar. If what you’re searching for isn’t on their site, ads are generated with links to other sites that may have it.
Many Books is a great resource for novels. More often than you think, classes will require more than just a textbook.
One of my media classes didn’t require a textbook for class, but every week we would have a new book to read or a movie to watch (and I was not about to buy 15 books and movies).
Sources like Many Books are super helpful! Check it out here.
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How to Get Free College Textbooks
In the video below, you can learn how to download free textbooks online. Following this step-by-step guide, you can download the Tor browser, sign up for ZLibrary, and search your textbook by ISBN for a free download.
As mentioned in this video, “Education shouldn’t be unattainable.”
Helpful Tip When Downloading A Free Book!
- Make sure the textbooks you’re downloading are up to date. Your professors are most likely going to require the latest edition of a textbook, but if you can only find one within the last 5-10 years, I’d say that is a safe enough range.
- Look up textbooks’ chapter study guides on Quizlet if you’re worried about missing information.
Buying or even renting textbooks does not equate to the prices attached to these books. Save yourself money and use these websites to download textbooks for your classes.
Library Genesis is my favorite site to download textbooks because I can always find the book I need. Free Book Spot is another site I often use because it features more than just textbooks.
These websites are free to use and easy to access. Save money, and download free textbooks online.
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