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Lion Guides: Textbooks

It’s time for the start of another semester of classes here at Columbia. As classes begin, we at The Lion have decided to share some of our best sources for getting cheaper textbooks.


For most classes, Columbia University Libraries has a copy of the required textbook (Check if they have it here). Unfortunately, most of these copies are in the Reserves, which means you can only check them out for two hours at a time. A good solution is to try and check it out near the closing time for the library; if you go late enough, they will allow you to return the book the next morning. Use this time to take pictures of all the pages you need to read and you just saved yourself from buying the book.

Another great option is to utilize Borrow Direct, a service that allows you to borrow books from other schools in the Ivy League as well as Duke University and the University of Chicago. If you use this option, be sure to look at the due date — Borrow Direct books have shorter checkout frames.

Book Culture

Book Culture is a neighborhood bookstore located at 112th and Broadway that offers textbooks for most classes offered at Columbia at affordable rates. Their prices tend to beat those of the Columbia Bookstore so be sure to check them out.


Slugbooks is a website that helps you easily compare textbook prices across a variety of online stores. Simply pull the ISBN number for a required textbook from Courseworks and Slugbooks will help you find how to buy/rent the book for the lowest price.


A great way to find textbooks for less is through using PDF versions of them. One way to find PDFs is to use this nifty eBook Search

Columbia Free and For Sale

If you haven’t yet, go join the Columbia Free & For Sale page. You can often find students selling their old textbooks here for a fraction of the price.


With all of these resources in mind, you should be well on your way to reducing the burden of rising textbook prices. Think we missed a good tip? Comment below or send an email to

Photo Courtesy Bradley Davison (CC ’17)

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