6 free textbook websites students absolutely love

free textbook websites
Say goodbye to spending money on textbooks with these free websites. Source: AFP

Going to university is an adventure full of new experiences, responsibilities — and no shortage of heavy, big and expensive textbooks. 

Professors often use specific textbooks that align with the curriculum, ensuring you have the necessary resources to understand the subject matter. 

However, securing these textbooks isn’t always easy or cheap. 

In the US, the average college student spent between US$339 to US$600 for books and supplies in one academic year, according to Education Data Initiative.

One out of four had to work extra hours to afford them. One out of 10 had to skip meals to afford books and course materials.

Unfortunately, you can’t always use the textbooks passed down to you by your parents or family members as new editions of textbooks are frequently released.

These revisions are to include new information — and they also mean that last year’s edition might not align perfectly with the current course requirements.

So, securing the latest edition is essential for you to keep up in class — but the importance of purchasing textbooks goes beyond just this.

You need them as a reference for assignments too, as they provide in-depth explanations and examples that can help you get the grade you want.

Some exams are open book which means you not only need to remember information but have the books with you to show you understand how to find information and can apply and analyse them as well.

Not having the latest textbooks complicates an already stressful time as you’ll need to always be aware if you have the most current information and are making the correct references.

While we all want to get As and pass exams, some textbooks can make big blow on our already-small student budget.

If this is you, here’s what you can do.

free textbook websites

Visit your nearest secondhand bookstore and you might just find the textbooks you are looking for at a cheaper price. Source: AFP

Rent textbooks to save money

There is no denying that university can be extremely expensive, especially when it comes to textbooks. 

The cost of new textbooks can be exorbitant, adding a financial burden on top of tuition fees and living expenses. 

To lessen this pressure, you may opt to rent textbooks as a cost-effective alternative.

Many online platforms offer textbook rental services, allowing you to access the required books for a specific duration, usually a semester. 

Choosing to rent also saves you space as you don’t have to worry about storing it after your semester ends.

Platforms like Chegg, Amazon Textbook Rental, and even campus bookstores often provide textbook rental options.

Besides that, you can also explore secondhand bookstores, either online or locally.

These stores often carry used textbooks at discounted prices, providing an affordable alternative to purchasing new editions. 

Many students sell their used textbooks after completing a course so you can buy them and save some money. Again, it’s important to remember to check if it’s the correct edition.

free textbook websites

You don’t need to go and buy a book with APA style guidelines. Your university library should have a few copies available. Source: AFP

APA style book 

University and assignment go hand in hand.

As such, mastering proper citation is an essential skill. One style that is widely recognised is the American Psychological Association (APA) format. 

APA style provides a set of rules and guidelines for citing sources in your academic work, ensuring that you give proper credit to the original authors and maintain integrity. 

This style is commonly used in disciplines like psychology, sociology, and education.

Understanding and implementing APA citation rules is important to avoid plagiarism and show the credibility of your research.

Don’t know much about APA or don’t have a textbook to learn how to cite?

When it comes to APA style guides, many libraries offer digital copies or online resources that cover the ins and outs of citing. 

These resources often break down the intricacies of citing different types of sources, including books, articles and online materials following the APA style. 

free textbook websites

Sell your textbook at the end of the semester to your juniors and earn some extra cash. Source: AFP

How to cite a textbook 

When citing a textbook in your academic work, follow the guidelines provided by the APA style. Start with the author’s last name, followed by their initials.

Include the publication year in parentheses, the title of the textbook in italics, and the edition number, if applicable.

Specify the place of publication and the name of the publisher.

For example: Smith, J. A. (Year). Introduction to Psychology (8th ed.). New York: Academic Press. This format allows your lecturer to easily locate the source when grading your assignment.

While it can be tedious when there are many sources to cite, it’s easy peasy once you master the basics.

Unlike APA style, however, you can’t rely on your library and digital resources alone to fully replace textbooks.

If you’re not one of those who can afford to buy several textbooks, each at a price of up to US$400, check out our handy list of where to find cheaper — and even free! — textbooks:

6 best free textbook websites for students in 2024

Saylor Academy 

Saylor Academy is a trusted online resource that caters to university students looking for textbooks and courses. 

And it is completely free. 

With over 100 courses available, covering subjects such as accounting, business, marketing and leadership, it is an excellent tool for you. 

The website is more commonly known for offering free courses that you can take online. There are more than 100 for you to choose from and you can even get tuition-free college credit for some. 

free textbook websites

Textbooks keep updating with new editions, so sometimes buying a book secondhand isn’t even an option. Source: AFP


Hit pause on your search for the best free textbook websites because Bookboon is exactly what you are looking for. 

Though free, Bookboon doesn’t stinge on quality, ensuring you get the best. While there are plenty of options to download textbooks across many subject areas, the website is most useful for downloading STEM and business-related textbooks. 

What sets Bookboon apart is its additional features, including audio learning resources, e-books and talks, making it a great platform for professional development. 

Trusted by popular brands and businesses, utilising Bookboon can enhance your academic journey by giving you the extra edge when it comes to securing employment. 

Open Textbook Library 

Open Textbook Library was designed to reduce the financial burden of textbook expenses, making it a go-to for university students. 

With 1,053 free textbooks available for download and supported by the Open Education Network, it is one of the best free textbook websites available. 

Beyond course materials, it has a range of books available for self-help and student success — giving you many resources to improve your performance without breaking the bank.

free textbook websites

University is expensive as it is so save yourself the financial burden and excess free textbook websites instead of buying new textbooks. Source: AFP

Project Gutenberg 

If you are looking for free textbook websites, Project Gutenberg is one you do not want to miss out on. 

How could you when it is the oldest digital library and offers over 60,000 free e-books? 

Project Gutenberg focuses on providing texts of old literature with expired copyrights. This means you can easily download texts without any fee or the hassle of downloading an app. 

Whether you’re seeking textbooks or exploring classic literature, Project Gutenberg is a great resource, with the top 100 most downloaded books readily accessible on the site.

free textbook websites

Did you know the College Board suggests that students set aside US$1,200 each year for books and other course materials? Source: AFP

Library Genesis 

Library Genesis, also known as LibGen, is one of the best free textbook websites. It offers free access to a huge collection of books, articles and magazines. 

Say goodbye to worrying about paying for textbooks when you use LibGen, which lets you download the PDF format of every free college textbook you need. 

It is easy to navigate, and the best part is that you can explore its resources without creating an account. 

You can search the LibGen Library using keywords, ISBN, year of publication, authors, extensions, etc. 


While not free, Perlego deserves an honorary mention. 

Imagine having a Netflix-like platform for your textbooks. That’s exactly what Perlego is. 

Best known for its unparalleled offering of unrestricted access to millions of books, it is the go-to website for all your textbook needs. 

The platform boasts an online library with academic resources and tools. For less than the price of a single book, you get unlimited access to over 950 topics and subtopics in English, Italian, Spanish, French and German. 

The platform houses over 700,000 textbook PDFs that are cost-effective and convenient for all students around the world. 

You start with a seven-day free trial and then can choose between a monthly subscription of US$8 or a yearly subscription of US$60.

This allows you to access all textbooks and highlight, bookmark and annotate them. 

Where to sell your used textbooks

If you do end up buying textbooks, don’t just chuck them once you are done with them. You could always sell your used textbooks in exchange for some extra cash

There are several ways to sell your textbooks, but remember that when you sell them back, you won’t get as much as you initially paid. 

Here are some options for where you could sell your textbooks:

  1. Your college bookstore: this is the easiest route if you bought your books on campus. You can get cash immediately, but be wary of potential lower resale values, especially if a newer edition of your book is available.
  2. Websites: Online platforms like Amazon, GoTextbooks, BookScouter, and Bookbyte are some websites to check out. Remember that demand often peaks around the start of the school year.
  3. Sell to classmates at a lower price: Student 2 Student connects you with buyers near you, eliminating shipping fees.
  4. Auction-based sites: eBay and local platforms such as Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace also offer options for selling your textbooks online in exchange for cash.