Why the bookstore should be your last resort for textbooks

One of the hardest parts of being a student, apart from lugging around those heavy textbooks all day, is purchasing them. An average textbook at the bookstore can be pretty expensive, and books for a full course load can be five times as bad. With the increase in prices for certain textbooks, and the textbook updates that are being made, students have to pay more and more for their academics every year. Tie in the projected deficit for the 2013-2014 academic year, and we can be expecting a lot of changes being made around campus, one being an increase in expenses overall. Although the school has come up with several different options for acquiring textbooks, it still ends up being a loss for most students.

Brittany Brooks - Opinion - BookstoreEvery year the school has a table outside the campus book store for students to sell back their textbooks to the school called “Recycle your books for cash”. This runs for a few weeks right outside the book store, where students can bring back their textbooks (if that particular version is still being used by the current professors for that course) and get a bit of their money back. When I say a bit, I mean it literally. There are hundreds of students that I’ve heard complain about how little money they get back for selling their books back to the school compared to how much they bought them for. It varies for each textbook; some people have managed to receive about 50 percent of what they bought the book for, other students may find that they only get $3 back for a $100 textbook – that’s ridiculous.

Obviously it isn’t the school’s priority to make sure we get money back for our textbooks when we’ve bought them from them in the first place, and the fact that the campus bookstore is even buying the books back makes it convenient for us and is something to be grateful for. But when students are spending over a thousand dollars on textbooks alone within the first few days of school and not even making half of that back the following year, it makes it harder to continue to spend that amount of money on something we’ll probably only ever look at for a semester and then never again. For students with financial aid, that could diminish most of the money they have after buying textbooks, and for those who pay for school entirely themselves – well that’s just difficult.

Selling back to the school is not our only option though. A lot of students also get rid of their old textbooks by selling them to other people. Now this is a lot more helpful because often times the prices are less than $100, and can even sometimes be less than 50 percent of what the school bookstore will charge you for them. There are ways of getting your books for under $300 dollars as opposed to over $500 too, as long as you’re looking in the right place. This would probably be a better option for most students because they can obviously save quite a bit of money.

Having said that, the bookstore should probably be every student’s last resort for buying textbooks; there are so many other ways of getting your textbooks. A lot of people rent textbooks, and some find copies online. Amazon for example has consistenly competitive prices. If you know someone who has a textbook you need, there is a chance it could come with an e-copy too. Or you could even trade textbooks for a semester – whatever you choose will probably work out better for you than buying from the school itself.

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