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Getting books

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Published: 13 August 2021

Piles of books

As a student, you’re going to be doing some reading. OK, make that a lot of reading.   

It’s one of the biggest questions brought up every year, how to get all the books you need without spending loads of money.  

Luckily, there are plenty of ways of accessing the learning materials you need, as well as going beyond your reading lists, without breaking the bank.  

The University of Sunderland in London Library  

Of course, the very first step in your search for books should be the University’s Library 

Located on the first floor, you’ll be able to find practically everything you need for your studies.  

Most importantly, that includes all books and journal articles on your reading list.   

You’ll be able to take them out for free, read loads of things online and get help and training on study skills 

Spend some time exploring the University of Sunderland in London Library website and find out about all the things they have on offer.   

Reading around the subject  

This isn’t necessarily about finding the key texts for your studies, but rather ‘reading around the subject.’  

What that means is the practice of looking for books outside of the main things everyone is studying from to give yourself a deeper understanding of the sector.   

It’s the way people become experts in their industry and helps to make you stand out.  


One of the best ways of doing this is finding older books that have been given to charity shops, second-hand bookshop and websites.  

Textbooks can be extremely expensive which is one of the reasons people are often put off reading around the subject.  

But with ‘pre-loved books the price range becomes much more reasonable.  

Check out Amazon’s ‘Used’ section or take a look at some of these great websites 

Alternatively, have a wander into your local charity shop. You might be surprised by how many treasures you can find.  

Ask other students  

When a student finished a course or module, they’re often left with quite a few bulky textbooks which are unlikely to be needed again.  

If you ask, don’t be surprised when they offer you them for very little or even free.   

The trick is finding them, so try asking your friends or setting up a Facebook Group.  

Free textbooks online  

If you don’t mind reading on screens, check out Google Scholar.   

It’s by no means perfect, but you’re likely to find a couple of chapters for many of the best books you need.  

There’s also Google BooksOpen Library, and Project Gutenberg for a huge range of free, online texts.   

And Amazon has Prime Reading which you can access for free for six months with a student account.  

Textbook swaps  

A similar idea to asking other students, but a lot more organised.   

Swap sites like BookMooch and BookCrossing have thousands of books on offer, including key academic texts.  

It’s also a great way of getting rid of some of your own textbooks if, like many students, they’re starting to pile up and you don’t know what to do with them.  

There are plenty of ways of getting your hands on free and cheap academic texts, which is just one of the many wonderful things about being a University of Sunderland in London student.  

Share your book swapping tips with the community on FacebookTwitter and Instagram using #WeAreSunLon.