Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A little necessary evil known as textbooks...

I doubt you’ll find anyone that will disagree with me when I say that textbooks are expensive. It’s not uncommon for a student to shell out an extra $250-$500 for books and bundled packages. That’s nearly a third of the tuition for a semester.

There are book scholarships out there, but they disappear quickly. You can apply for those through Financial Aid. If you can't nab one of those, then there's a couple of ways to go about buying your books.

The bulletin board across the hall from the Campus Bookstore should be your first stop. Check it to see if any of the note cards like the ones in the picture have the book you need. You can get really good bargains because you buy from students directly.

If that doesn’t have what you need, then your next step should be the Follett Campus Bookstore.

Some of the positives of buying your books on campus is that you know you’re getting exactly what your professor asked for. You can see and hold the book in your hand; you know what kind of condition the book is in if it’s used. There’s no waiting period, aside from the long lines at the beginning and end of each semester. If the edition is still in use at the end of the semester, you can sell your book back for half price.

Some of the downsides to buying your books on campus are that it’s generally the more expensive route to go. Bundled packages are expensive, and more times than not, you never really use all the CD’s and fluff that comes shrink-wrapped with the book.

Textbook Brokers across the street from the college say they offer most books at $10 to $15 dollars cheaper than the Follett Campus Bookstore, you just need to be careful to make sure it's the book you need and in the right condition.

Online textbook stores like eBay's half.com and Amazon's Marketplace are generally the cheapest way to buy used textbooks. You can also sell your old textbooks (Like editions that the campus bookstore wouldn’t take) online. But you can’t physically see the condition of your used book if you buy online until it arrives. Plus, shipping and handling fees will eat into your savings.

Here’s an example of the difference between the costs of buying your textbooks in the bookstore and online:

The cost of the BIOL 1010 textbook, just the textbook and none of the recommended stuff, is $123.00 used. To get all of the materials on the book list, a student would have to pay $202.20 for a single class.

Using http://www.half.ebay.com/, I was able to find the textbook for $80.00. The total cost to buy the entire book list online ended up being $180. That’s not including shipping or handling costs, but it’s still nearly 20% in savings.

It’s all a matter of personal preference. Personally, I start shopping online towards the dead middle of summer. Then I'll buy whatever books I didn't get online at the bookstore.

When we ran a poll and a vast majority of you said you bought your textbooks from the bookstore. Why did you choose the bookstore? What stopped you from buying online? If you bought online, what website did you use? How much did you save by buying online? We want to hear your opinions.

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