Free Textbooks – GradPlan

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Free Textbooks

There are lots of ways to find your textbooks for free, from libraries to e-books.

Wait, you said free?!

That’s right! There are actually ways to get your textbooks for free, and they’re all legal.

For example, you could look for your books at the libraries on campus, or in your area. You could also try to hunt down free digital versions of the books you need. Read on below for more details.

Don’t forget! Upperclassmen are often getting rid of their old books, especially if they know they can’t return or sell them. It might be possible to just ask for the books, or to offer a trade for something you have they might want (e.g., Bobby Portis jersey, video games, honey buns, etc.)


  • University Library Circulation – Always check to see if your school library has copies of your textbook you can check out. They may also have digital copies you can view.
  • University Reserves – Professors often “reserve” the required textbooks/texts at the library so students may read them for free for an hour or two, but cannot take the book home.
  • Inter-library exchange – Many universities have a sharing program with other educational institutions, meaning that students in the network can borrow books from other college’s libraries if there are no copies at their campus library.
  • Public Library – Check your local public library for your books. You can open a public library card account with your university address and ID.

Digital Books

  • Google Books – Sometimes 80% of the book is available online or even whole chapters for free at Google Books. If you are in a bind and waiting for a shipped book to arrive, check to see if you can get a part of the book.
  • Project Gutenberg – Use Project Gutenberg to access a Digital library of 60,000 free e-books that features books where the U.S. copyright has expired. That means this is a good site to use for primary texts and older classics.
  • Librivox – Offers thousands of free audio books online to readers, mostly novels, but also some older nonfiction texts.
  • Library Genesis – Unique website has millions of free articles, journals and PDF textbooks. Check it out here.
  • OpenStax – Nonprofit based at Rice University that offers free PDF books on biology, social sciences, mathematics, humanities, business, and more!
  • Open Textbook Library Open textbooks are licensed by authors and publishers to be freely used and adapted. Download any of their 1,000+ textbooks, edit and share them at no cost.
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"Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today."

Malcolm X, human rights activist