College textbooks are a huge expense. If you buy retail, you can easily spend several hundred dollars on textbooks every single semester. Often times the cost of these textbooks will have to come out of your pocket - not your parents' or grants. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways you can save money on textbooks.
Shop for Used Textbooks
Try to buy textbooks used rather than new. You can easily save 50% or more by doing just this. There are a few different places you can look. In most college towns, there will be a bookstore that specializes in buying and selling used textbooks. Sometimes this will be your college bookstore. Sometimes it'll be your local bookstore. If you can't find the textbook(s) you need from a used textbook store, you can try shopping online instead. Your costs will be slightly higher because you have to pay for shipping, but it'll still be a lot less than buying retail.
Talk to Other Students
If you know someone who took the class the semester before you, ask if they'd be willing to sell it to you. You'll usually be able to get a pretty good price. If you know the student well, you could even just ask them to borrow the book for a semester. When you return it to them, they'll still be able to sell the book. You get the semester for free and it costs them nothing.
Check for an "International" Version
Believe it or not, you'll often be able to find international versions of popular textbooks in English for a fraction of the price of the local versions. For example, you might find your statistics textbook in its Japan edition. The title and front cover might be in Japanese and English, but the book's actual contents are in English. Use sites like Amazon.com to find these textbooks. Check with your professor to make sure these textbooks will cover what you need to know.
Check for Digital Versions
Check for digital versions of your textbook on the Kindle bookstore and the iBookstore. The biggest labels in the textbook publishing world have already signed on with Amazon to produce their textbooks in digital format. Digital textbooks are still pricey, but much less expensive than their physical counterparts.
Go 50/50 with another Student
Finally, if you're really on a budget or if you can't find any discount textbooks, go 50/50 with another student. It can be quite tricky to share a textbook. Sometimes you'll have to study together or go without the textbook for a day or two. But if that's what it takes to make the money work, that's what you've gotta do. Paying just a little more attention to your textbook expenses can help you save hundreds of dollars every semester.