There are dozens of textbooks that students need throughout their academic careers. Those textbooks cost as little as $20 to more than $300 depending on the type of textbooks. Personally, a new textbook that was required for my chemistry course was more than $200. I couldn’t afford to buy new, so I bought used books. If I knew back then what I know now about getting free textbooks online, I could have saved hundreds even thousands of dollars.

The following article is a complete guide on how to obtain online textbooks for free. First, I will discuss where you can download those textbooks and then give you a step-by-step guide if you couldn’t find a book that you are looking for. If you follow my guide carefully, you will find 99% of the textbooks that you are seeking for free. You should note that the current version is not always available, however.


How Can You Use This Information about Getting Online Textbooks for Free?

There are multiple ways that you can use this information. Personally, I have downloaded an online copy of my textbooks as well as bought the used version of the book. That way, I do not have to carry heavy textbooks around and also have easy access to them when I need them. My professor told us to have a paper copy of the textbooks, so I had to buy a physical copy anyways. But if your professor allows you to have an online version of the textbook, you can use this information to save hundreds of dollars.

Second, I used it to download supplemental textbooks such as answer keys to practice problems on the textbooks. It was optional to buy the detailed answer key, so I downloaded them instead of buying them. You can use it to download optional textbooks that you don’t have to buy and save money.

Third, you can use it to broaden your education outside of school. Let’s say you have an interest in computer programming, but your major is not computer programming. If so, you can download a couple of books about computer programs to see which books that you like the best. Then, you can order it online and have the physical copy. I always preferred studying out of a physical textbook rather than reading online, but you might not care either way, which saves you money.

Check Also: Available Programs for International Students


Sites Where You Can Get Free Textbooks Online

These are the best sites from which you can get online textbooks for free. So, let’s start looking at them!

1. Library Genesis

Library Genesis has over 1.5 million non-fiction books and 2 million files in total. It has many online textbooks for free as well as free non-fiction books. If you are a scholar, there are many scientific articles as well. The downloading procedure could be quite complex for beginners. In other words, you might be spending several minutes trying to find the right source to download your book.

2. Google Search Engine

If the Library Genesis does not contain the textbook that you are looking for, the second place that you should check is the Google Search Engine. What you should input is “the name of the textbook” + pdf. This will give you a list of PDF files that are available online. Check with each one to see if it is the one that you are looking for.

3. Mobilism

So, let’s say that you can’t find the free textbook or scholarly article that you are looking for on all these sites. What can you do? You can ask other people to find it for you. Mobilism is a very active forum where information on textbooks and scholarly articles are posted. You can request a link to download specific textbooks, and from my experience, most requests are filled.

4. Textbook Revolution

This site was started by a group of students to provide online textbooks for free. They have a decent collection of textbooks that you can download in many different subjects. They have a search engine where you can search textbooks, and from my own experience, they had dozens of textbooks for every discipline.

5. OpenCulture

OpenCulture is a project started by people from Stanford University to provide textbooks in multiple disciplines for free. You should note that the selection is not huge compared to millions of books in Genesis Library. It has hundreds of textbooks in these categories:

  • Art History
  • Biology
  • Business and Management
  • Chemistry
  • Classics
  • Computer Science and Information Systems
  • Earth Science
  • Economics & Finance
  • Education
  • Electric Engineering
  • Engineering
  • History
  • Languages
  • Law
  • Linguistics
  • Mathematics
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • System Theory

If you could not find your textbooks here and still didn’t try out Genesis Library, I highly recommend Genesis Library

6. Reddit

Reddit is a website, where there are separate communities called “subreddits.” Some of the subreddits are designed to help students find books. Here are some subreddits where you can request books

If you are willing to pay $3-$8 on a textbook, I highly recommend r/slavelabour. You can ask for textbooks by paying very little, but this should be your last resort after you couldn’t find the textbooks for free using the resources that I gave you.

How to Find Online Textbooks for Free

Now you have the list of all the sources where you can download the textbooks that you need, let’s discuss the best method for finding them.

1. Definitely try Genesis Library First

In my experience, I’ve found around 85% of all the textbooks that I’ve needed in Genesis Library. You might find an older version of the textbook. If you can settle with an older edition, great! If you absolutely need the newer edition of the book, follow the next steps.

2. If you can’t find the textbook in Genesis Library, try Google Search Engine and B-OK

 These resources are the next sources that you should seek. Try out the search engine and B-OK to see if the textbooks that you are looking for are available.

3. If you can’t find it there, try other links that I’ve mentioned.

I want to be honest with you, but your chances are pretty slim if you can’t find it in Genesis Library, Google Search Engine, and B-OK.

4. Next, ask in the Mobilism forum and Reddit community.

These users have helped many students download textbooks for free. So, make sure to ask these people to help you. The more people that look for a textbook, the better your chances are.

5. Finally, pay someone in r/slavelabour to find your ebooks.

This should be your last resort, but if you can’t find the textbook that you are looking for, you should pay someone to download it for you. You do need to be careful and ask them to give the textbooks first before you pay through PayPal.

6. If all these methods have failed, then you need to buy your textbooks.

Sorry that it didn’t work out for you, but if all these things failed, you can’t find them online. You just have to simply buy the textbooks. I suggest that you would buy old textbooks or even rent them on Amazon. Amazon has a great selection of books that you can even rent! Check here to find books for cheap.

Hopefully, this article on how you can get free textbooks was helpful to you. Make sure to also check out the Available Programs for International Students!

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