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7 tips for cheaper textbooks

Budget — It will drain your bank account when the bill for your textbooks runs up to several thousand kroner. However if you want to get the books on the cheap, help is at hand. The University Post offers you seven tips to balance your budget.

This article was first published in August 2017. This is an updated version.

For many Danish young people the month of September means studying. With a new semester, there are also new subjects, and each will require new books to be purchased. Depending on which subject it is, this can be expensive, and some students may have to cough up DKK 2,500 for textbooks each semester.

Fortunately, there are ways to keep the textbook prices down, so you can do the readings for your lectures without having to live off canned pet food.

1. Sale of used books

On Facebook there are loads of niche groups, and so there is a big chance that you can find a group where your books are for sale. The Facebook group for your specific subject area is an excellent place to start – older students will sell their old books at a reasonable price here. Several study programmes also have a group specifically dedicated to the purchase/sale of the books that are repeatedly on the curriculum. Remember to ask about how much the book has been underlined and the general condition of the book. Some students see previous margin notes and crossings-out as a help, others prefer a book to be without them. Alternatively, try to get hold of one of your tutors during the introduction days and ask them if they can send their old books to you. If Facebook cannot help you or there are brand new books on the syllabus, try some of the websites dedicated to reselling all books. For Danish books you can start at studenterguiden, pensum.dk or gads forlag.

2. The good ole stuff: The library

The romance between libraries and students has been going on for centuries. It’s no surprise that you can find a lot of your textbooks at the library – and borrow them for free. The library, however, rarely has that many copies, and you become very unpopular if you write your notes in the margins, but if you are out of time and just need to read a few chapters in a book, this can be a good free solution. The Biblioteksdatabasen has many e-editions of many books and articles, so you can download parts of the curriculum. If your own library does not have the book you are missing, search in the national database. You can also always ask a librarian. They can usually help you dig up the most wonderful things, and this is no matter whether you need a forgotten work by Loïc Wacquant or a classic about dark matter.

3. The infinite internet

The internet contains many hidden treasures, and if you just need a single chapter, you are usually able to find it with a few simple searches. You can also be lucky and find books online that can be downloaded completely for free. Check your educational institution for access to databases of articles and extracts from books. Many universities subscribe to a number of electronic periodical packages and reference works,, where you can also find what you need.

4. Your faculty library

Many faculties and departments have a small academic library with books that are particularly relevant to you and your fellow students. You can rarely borrow books from the faculty library for a long time, but you can easily make copies from the books so that you can do all the scribbling that you want. It may be cheap to copy, but be sure that you are on the right side of the law. It’s not legal to copy a book using commercial copy-service shops, but you can get help from the library, or do it from your own printer. The Royal Library’s search engine REX gives all UCPH students access to millions of articles in physical and electronic form. Here you can order books from the closest faculty library, if you don’t want to leave your computer to find them. In some study programmes the instructors ask you to find the articles on REX.

5. Older editions

You can save a lot of money if you choose to buy an older version of your textbook. Often the difference between editions is limited to small corrections, but check this to be on the safe side before you purchase the old version. Even though there may be substantial differences between the two editions, the book may well suit its purpose anyway. And the demand – both online and among the students – may be significantly lower. Having the newest edition, won’t necessarily make you the wiser, but it will certainly make you the poorer.

6. Price differences between shops

Many book stores sell the same books, but at different prices and with different student discounts. Saxo and Academic Books offer many of the same books, but for Danish books you can swing by Arnold Busck or Bog & Ide to find out if they can order some of your textbooks. Amazon is good, but remember to check delivery times before ordering, so that the book does not appear halfway through the semester. For Danish books, sites like bogpris.nu and pensum.dk can help you compare book prices.

7. Sharing economy

There are many students who want to keep some of their books, even if they do not need them for that particular semester. They may be willing to lend, or rent, their books for a semester. If you are two students from the same year cohort, you can also buy one set of books and share them between you. It requires planning, and you cannot always read up the evening before a lecture, but it may work well. On many campuses, students can borrow a locker – and then you suddenly have your own little library!

Every time you copy and share textbooks, keep in mind that there are rules on who you can share them with. Here (in Danish) are the rules published by Danish publishers.

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