Save money on textbooks

By Princess Gabbara

The Eastern Echo

As students head to bookstores to sell back their winter textbooks, they might want to consider a few options before making any more purchases for future semesters.

Many students are choosing to rent or purchase used copies of textbooks to save money.

African American studies/secondary English education major Benjamin Barnes said he relies on a couple of websites to find the best deal on textbooks.

“I normally buy my textbooks from Amazon or eBay,” he said. “I probably spent about $100 on textbooks this semester.”

Other popular websites among college students include chegg.com and half.com.

These websites offer textbook rentals and free return shipping when the semester ends. Students also have the option of purchasing used or new textbooks and extending their rental period for an additional fee. If students choose to purchase textbooks, they can sell them back anytime.

Journalism/social work major Jordan Cusumano said she doesn’t look forward to purchasing textbooks because of the costs.

“Textbooks are so expensive. I hate buying them. I probably spent around $250 this semester,” she said. “It takes a lot of time to shop around for the best deal and I rarely do, so I usually end up paying more at the bookstore.”

Nursing major Tram Nguyen said she prefers renting her textbooks every semester.

“I normally buy books at Ned’s Bookstore … They have a rental deal and buy books back at the end of the semester,” she said.

So, how much money can students actually save by renting textbooks versus purchasing new textbooks? Here are a few comparisons:

Brand New Prices “The Art of Editing in the Age of Convergence (9th Edition)”
 Ned’s Bookstore $149.50
Half.com $102.95
Chegg.com $71.99
Rental Prices “The Art of Editing in the Age of Convergence (9th Edition)”
Ned’s Bookstore $82.15 (new)/$76.75 (used)
Half.com $41.78
Chegg.com $37.99

These charts show students could save approximately 45-60 percent by renting their textbooks instead of purchasing new copies.

Eastern Michigan University professor James Pinson recommends purchasing earlier editions of textbooks to save money.  

“… I find myself talking to students the first day about any acceptable, cheaper alternatives to texts I require or recommend,” he said.

Nguyen said she would purchase earlier editions of textbooks depending on the subject.

“For gen ed classes like sociology, philosophy or psychology, I would have no problem buying one older edition…But books like biology, math or chemistry, I would prefer the newest edition because science is changing every day …”

Students might want to talk with their professors to find out what editions of textbooks are acceptable for the courses they’re taking.

Pinson said he also encourages students to purchase used copies of textbooks.

“There’s nothing wrong with buying used textbooks, and I think many students prefer them,” he said.

If students purchase used copies of earlier editions of textbooks, they could save approximately 98-99 percent.

For example, a used copy of “The Art of Editing in the Age of Convergence (8th edition)” can be purchased for one cent on Amazon.com and $2.02 on eBay.com.

Although more students are choosing to rent and purchase used copies of textbooks, Pinson offered a few words of advice.

“I’d just say compare what percentage you typically get selling back a book at the end of the semester versus just paying the rental price and returning the book for nothing,” he said.

“I’d recommend that students wait until the first day of class before buying books to see whether they really need to spend as much money as they might think.”

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