Textbooks are fucking expensive, and if your professor doesn’t require a physical copy (most don’t - they just want you to have the book at hand. Or maybe even not. Some professors literally give no fucks about whether you have the book or not) and you don’t mind having your copy as an electronic copy - this is the post for you!
Most textbook companies put out new editions every year or so even though there isn’t really that much new information. Sometimes they’ll eliminate questions if it’s something like a math or chemistry book or they’ll add in a few sentences about updated legislation (the professor I work for teaches human sexuality, and the newest edition of the book she uses included the 2009 decision to allow same-sex couples have hospital visitation rights). These new editions are pointless and only created to make the textbook company money and to cut down on students selling to each other. You’re going to ignore that. We love older editions. Make sure when you’re searching on the following sites that you don’t include the edition number to give you more search results. If one with your edition comes up - great! If not, you can usually stick to something one to three editions behind without any major changes.
Sites you should be searching:
- FilesTube - FilesTube searches THE ENTIRE INTERNET for files uploaded to file-sharing websites such as MegaUpload, Mediafire, or WuUpload. Sometimes people will upload pdf files of your textbook. This is always an important first search.
- Google Books - You usually won’t find your textbook on Google Books, but it’s always worth a look. Sometimes pages are missing because it’s only a preview of the book, but again - always worth a look.
- Scribd - People upload documents to Scribd and by becoming a member (free!) or connecting through Facebook (if you’re lazy!), you can download whatever files you may find. This sometimes includes textbooks.
- BookBoon - website specifically for finding pdf versions of textbooks
- Curriki - free open source materials
- Flat World Knowledge - free business, humanities, and science textbooks
- California Learning Resource Network
- Open Culture
- Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources
- TorrentScan - textbooks are also uploaded to torrent sites in some cases - you may as well check.
- If push comes to shove, you can try variations of googling “textbook name torrent” or “textbook name download” or “textbook name download free.” Sometimes things pop up and I never would have known about them.
- LibraryPirate is a torrent search site specifically for textbooks. (Added 10 October 2011)
- AMAZING Reddit post (Added 2 November 2011)
- JenkThat - I haven’t tried this out yet, but I’ve heard good things from others. It’s also a good place to find other ebooks that aren’t textbooks. (Added 29 December 2011)
I’ve found all 8 of my textbooks for this term (19 credit hours, six classes) through one of the methods above. I’m not even going to look at retail prices, but checking BigWords.com (which, if you want to buy your books/can’t find them anywhere with one of the previous methods, will give you the cheapest price on the internet), I saved $497.87 by doing this. It takes time, but it’s definitely worth almost $500 worth of time. If you know of more ways to find free textbooks - please let me know!
Let me add a few here! This will be for those who look for older books and can’t borrow them from a library in their countries (and trust me, it happens way too often). But also for some pretty new books which are nowhere to be found or new texts:
- archive.org - this is a pretty amazing site which allows you to find not only old books, but all types of media! You don’t have to register, just type in title or a name and click search. Mostly (though not entirely) American and British texts.
- europeana.eu - this baby will search for you through many European libraries resources and let you find the text you’re looking for (or multimedia). Same as above, no registration needed. You will be redirected to the library and can download the books from it (don’t panic, most of those libraries have English language option)
- theeuropeanlibrary.org - thousands of books, just look them up, no registration needed.
- academia.edu - this one offers you a possibility to search through researches of scientists from all over the world! You can find their texts (articles not books) and read them online or simply download. You can create an account, but it’s not necessary. Very amazing site!
Now if you’d like to find a physical copy of a book in a library in your country, you have to use this little thing:
- worldcat.org - it will find the book for you, show you in which places you can find it, show a place that is nearest to you. Then you can simply make them deliver it to your library (this system works in most countries), but you’ll have to pay (it varies, it’s best to simply do that through your university library’s system or talk with your professor - the fees are generally lower for them and they can borrow more than you).
Lastly! This one:
- avaxhome.ws - this is a place where you can find literally anything.