Obtaining an education is an expensive process, and the cost of textbooks is on the rise. There are many different mediums in which a student can buy a textbook: the on campus bookstore, College Books off campus, the Internet, or renting the book online.
“I tend to go as long as I can without buying textbooks, but that never seems to go too well,” said Claire Dobbins, PR/Advertising sophomore.
All of these prices are based on the TJC required book for major’s Biology, the 11th edition of Biology: the Unity and Diversity of Life by Starr.
“I go to the bookstore [that] is open when I go. College Books wasn’t open when I went so, I did not buy my books there. They closed at 4:30 and I showed up at 4:45. I went to the TJC Bookstore. I find that the prices are pretty comparable. I’m not really going to get [ripped off] either way,” said Buck Webster, Economics sophomore.
The on-campus bookstore, owned by Follett, listed the Biology book in used condition for $118.50. This was the most expensive of all of the mediums, but the bookstore is conveniently located and they accept financial aid, Bridge Loans, and Pell Grants. Students are also guaranteed to get the right book for their class.
“[The on-campus bookstore] does things I don’t do. They do the grants, scholarships, and financial aid … I’m not a state supported school, I’m just an individual,” said Ann Clower, manager of College Books.
The off-campus bookstore, College Books, listed the Biology book for $106. They were cheaper than the on-campus bookstore by $12.50. As with the on-campus store, students are guaranteed to get the right book for their class, and the staff there is helpful in helping students find everything they need.
“My books got stolen a little while ago. I reported them to both bookstores and the off-campus bookstore seemed to be a lot more helpful and nice,” said Jordan Silcox, business administration sophomore.
“[Online books selling] has hurt us very little. I think a lot of people that order online, have found out that some of the books that they got are the same price as my books,” said Clower. “Some of the books are wrong and they are stuck with the book. So often, books by a certain title will have several subtitles and that causes [students] to get the wrong book.”
Students can also buy their books online. Books bought online are typically much cheaper, but they take more effort to make sure you get the right book. If a student purchases the wrong book, it is more likely than not, non-refundable.
“I had the 7th edition of my book, but it was not sufficient for my class. Trust me, the words are not the same. I made it one month with the old edition then decided that I better get the new [one],” said Webster.
There is a process to buying books online. First, visit the TJC website and go to the bookstore quicklink.
They have lists of the books needed for each class, but they do not provide the ISBN numbers. An ISBN number is similar to a barcode. Each book has a unique number, and once you know that number, it is much easier to search for the book on the web.
Once a student has that number, there are tons of websites to choose from. The two main sites are amazon.com and half.com. There are also websites that act as search engines to find the best deal from a number of different websites. The biology book was listed on amazon.com for $65. That’s $43 cheaper than the off-campus store, without including the cost of shipping.
“I’m computer illiterate, but I bought a book from valorebooks.com. It is a very easy site to navigate,” said Dobbins.
Then, there is the relatively new phenomenon of renting textbooks online. Some main sites for this are chegg,com, bookrenter.com, and whyrentbooks.com. Chegg is special in that they will plant a tree for every book that students rent from them.
Students still have to go through a process to find the ISBN number, and ordering the book is the same as buying one online. The only exception is that there is a due date for its return.
“I have textbooks at home that will never use again; renting textbooks would ensure that they didn’t end up collecting dust on my shelf. It saves money too,” said Dobbins.
When renting online, there are two different prices: one to rent the book for a semester (125 days) and one to rent for a quarter (85 days). A student would want to rent the book for a quarter if they were taking a Maymester or summer course, otherwise the book would be needed for the full semester.
Each website has a slightly different method of exactly how they want business conducted, but basically the student orders the books, and uses it for their class. After the semester, they send it back in a prepaid package back to the renter.
On chegg.com, the Biology book cost $42.90 to rent for a semester and $37.32 to rent for a quarter. That’s $22.10 cheaper to rent the textbook for a semester than to buy it online. Students don’t have to worry about selling it back, or worry about the changing of editions.
The book should be treated like a library book. Highlighting and writing in the margins needs to be kept to a minimum. If the book returns back to the vendor damaged, the student will be charged for the book. If the student likes the book, and would like to buy it after the semester, they can for an extra fee. Students can also buy extra time for the rental period.
There are of course, fines for returning the book late. Each site has a different method for handling this, so students should read the policies before committing to the rental.
No matter how a student obtains them, textbooks are needed for education. There are many different options for obtaining them. It’s all a matter of preference.