According to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, textbook prices skyrocketed across college campuses up to 22 percent over the last several years. The burden of recent education cuts on the state and national levels forces students to seek out alternative outlets each semester for acquiring textbooks.
One method rapidly gaining widespread recognition is online renting. Students can opt to rent textbooks from the campus bookstore, but more savvy students turn to online renters like BookRenter and Chegg which offer more texts in circulation at a cheaper rate. In fact, renting saves students hundreds of dollars every semester.
BookRenter claims that students can save up to 80 percent through their service. Renters can opt to return their textbooks for a full refund 21 days after completing an order. Often shipping is free and rental periods are extended to encompass the entire semester at no charge.
Most textbooks can be found at reasonable prices on these sites. For example, College Algebra, 5th edition, by Robert Blitzer is the textbook required for the college algebra (MATH 1111) course offered at VSU. This text cost $33 to rent for one semester through BookRenter and $47 through Chegg. Physical Chemistry for the Biosciences, by Raymond Chang, is the textbook required for the upper-level biology course, Molecular Biophysics (BIOL 4520). Renting this text for one semester through BookRenter costs the student $38. Currently Physical Chemistry for the Biosciences cannot be obtained through Chegg.
When the use of a textbook expands over several semesters, renting is no longer an option. When these methods are not relevant to the student, other options for finding textbooks exist; such as buying the text used.
Both the bookstore on campus and Dorks Bookstore (formally Lee’s Bookstore) located off Baytree, sell new and used textbooks to students–although at ever-increasing prices. Online sites, such as Half.com and those listed above offer used textbooks at more affordable prices as well. Unfortunately, the used price when compared to the original is not always a great deal, and often enough still leaves a lasting strain on the student. On the upside, students have the chance of selling their already purchased used text back to both Dorks and the campus bookstore. Sell-back rates vary, and more often a student has a more lucrative opportunity when choosing to sell their texts online.
At the campus bookstore, Physical Chemistry for the Biosciences costs $96 new and $72 used. The same text at Dorks Bookstore costs $71 used. College Algebra costs $121 new and $91 used through the campus bookstore. Currently College Algebra cannot be obtained through Dorks. On Half.com , Physical Chemistry for the Biosciences can be bought used for as low as $61 and College Algebra for as low as $50.
Another method that is becoming popular among college students is purchasing international editions. International edition textbooks almost always contain the same exact content as their United States counter-parts, yet are made at a much cheaper quality and for a foreign market.
“It makes no sense to buy a textbook for more than I have to,” Danielle Roush, a senior philosophy major, said. “ During my second semester I bought a $300 chemistry book for $60.”
These text books are usually listed at a fraction of the price and are sold brand new. An international edition of a text book can be found online through independent sellers on sites such as TextbooksRus and eBay.
The latest edition of Campbell Biology, a popular introduction to biology textbook, is listed on the sites above at a retail cost of $209. On TextbooksRus, the same text can be bought as an international edition for $60. Discrete Mathematics and its Applications, the text required for the computer science course Discrete Structures (CS 2620), is listed at a retail value of $219. Through eBay, the same text as an international edition can be purchased for $32.
Chegg offers students the option of renting certain textbooks in the form of eBooks; thereby, cutting costs while freeing up space and ending the hassle of handling bulky books. Other sites that sell and rent out eBooks include Amazon and the Kno App. Often enough one can even be lucky to find a digital copy of a needed text online through various sharing networks.
Amazon offers an eBook edition of Campbell Biology for $180, and rented from Kno for $71 per six-month period. For $128, an eBook of Discrete Mathematics and its Applications can be acquired from Amazon, and rented for a semester from Chegg for $96.
As the means of information exchange rapidly progresses, new and innovated ways to obtain textbook content constantly arises. The rising cost of texts compels the publishers to seek alternatives to the mediocre page-bounded textbook; while simultaneously compelling students to rethink where they throw their money in order to obtain needed content.