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Heartland Community College

Saving Money on Textbooks


Buy used: The bookstore clearly marks used books with a sticker on the spine.  They have been checked for highlighting, etc, so they are usually high quality.

Price Match: The HCC Bookstore offers a price match option. Staff can check prices at the time you purchase your textbooks. It if is available cheaper from another major retailer (for example Amazon or Barnes and Noble) the Bookstore gives you a gift card for the price difference. You can apply that to any bookstore purchase including your other textbooks and supplies.

HCC Book Swap: Donate a textbook to the end-of-semester Swap and receive a credit for a future Swap. Credits are good for up to three semesters. Certain restrictions apply. Check the student calendar or myHeartland for details and dates of upcoming Textbook Swaps and Priority Donation dates.

Bookstore Buy Back: If you do not need to keep your textbooks, you can attempt to sell them back for cash.

Textbooks that have been purchased for use during the semester might be needed by the HCC bookstore for the next semester.

The HCC bookstore will accept books for buyback at any point during the year, but the best time to do this is during finals week of the Spring and Fall semesters. During these times the bookstore may offer as much as 50% of the book’s original price. If an instructor wants to use that textbook for the upcoming semester, then it has a higher value.

There are some restrictions to buyback. Textbooks that are water-damaged or have had the covers torn off are not eligible for buyback. This is also true for the “looseleaf” editions and for access codes that have been opened. If you have any questions about this, please email the bookstore at

Returns: Full refunds are sometimes available if you purchased the wrong book or drop a class. Certain time and condition restrictions may apply and you must have your receipt.  Shrink-wrapped items that are unwrapped will not be accepted.

If it is past the return date, you may still be able to do a buyback for cash.

"Bundling": If an instructor needs multiple books or materials for a class, sometimes the publisher will create a bundle to lower the cost. These can be helpful to make sure you have everything you need. You should always be aware of what is in a bundle, and how much money you are saving by purchasing the items that way.  You may save money buying the items separately in a used condition. 


Rent: Cheaper upfront but you need to remember a couple things:

  • You have to return the book at the end of the semester
  • The book must be in the same condition as when you rented it
  • You do not get your rental money back and there is no buy back
  • Set a phone reminder for a couple days before the book needs to be returned!
  • You will be charged the full price plus a fee if you do not return on time.

Library Reserve: Ask at the HCC Library desk to see if your textbook is on reserve.  Most have to stay in the Library, but you can read it and take notes or scan and print a few pages for free.

Textbook Sharing: Sharing with a classmate is another option.  While it requires some coordination, having a study partner is a great idea!

Financial Aid

If you have been awarded Financial Aid for the upcoming semester and have not received an email authorizing you to charge your books at the HCC bookstore, please contact the Financial Aid office.

If you received an email saying you are able to charge your textbooks and supplies, check with the bookstore to learn what the deadlines for doing this are. They will also know what materials qualify for this charge. Usually you can charge textbooks and classroom supplies such as pens, paper and binders. Gift cards can’t be charged to your Financial Aid.

Buy Elsewhere

If you decide to shop off-campus, keep in mind:

  • Always use the ISBN number to make sure you are ordering the correct book and edition (There are hundreds of books out there with the title Introduction to Physics.)
  • Shipping times can delay the arrival of your textbook and shipping costs can eat up any savings from the purchase price.
  • Check the return policy (and consider return shipping costs) in case you need to return the book

Finding an ISBN

An ISBN is a 13-digit number used to identify books and book-like products. Editions of the same title have different ISBN numbers, which makes finding your exact textbook much easier.

Always use the ISBN number of your textbook when comparison shopping to ensure you are getting the correct edition.

Contact Us


Phone: 309-452-9007
HCC Bookstore Hours 


SCB 1200
Phone: 309-268-8292
Ask a Librarian