Students explore textbook buying options in effort to save money

The most well-known way for students to buy their books is to purchase them at Mercyhurst College’s bookstore, but the variety of ways students can obtain textbooks seems to increase every year.

Now that the required textbook list is posted online prior to each term, Mercyhurst College students have the option to compare textbook prices and decide the least expensive way to obtain their books.

In a recent Merciad online poll, 49 percent of students who responded said they purchased their books online for winter term. Thirty-two percent said they bought their books at the bookstore.

Ethan Magoc photo: Sophomore Cory Krchnavy and freshman bookstore employee Matthew Mulford examined a booklist on Tuesday, Nov. 30.Ethan Magoc photo: Sophomore Cory Krchnavy and freshman bookstore employee Matthew Mulford examined a booklist on Tuesday, Nov. 30.“I order online when I can unless the book is a new edition, otherwise I go to the bookstore,” freshman Scott Dempsey said.

Websites like Amazon, eBay or are favorites among students where prices can be cut by more than half on both used and new books.

“I never knew the savings I could find once I stopped shopping at the bookstore,” sophomore Paige Bosnyak said. “My last purchase saved me $169 by buying online. (It was the) best decision of my life.”

Other students use the option of renting their books through websites like Chegg or Barnes & Noble. Obtaining books this way allows students to rent from the company for a discounted price and then send them back at the end of their term.

“I like using Chegg, because then I have no hassle with selling my books back or dealing with the bookstore,” sophomore Ryan Fragapane said. “Last time I went to the bookstore, they were out of the book I needed and I avoid that with Chegg.”

Due to the many options students have when deciding where to purchase or rent their textbooks, not as many seem to be purchasing from the bookstore on Briggs.

The bookstore’s sales were lower for the winter term, according to Bookstore General Manager Dan Cullen. This, however, was expected since sales seem to be higher in the fall term every year given that students seem to take more classes during the fall term than winter.

The difference in sales wasn’t by a large margin. Bookstore employee and junior Mike Wayner said he barely noticed a difference.

“The sales seemed about the same between terms and pretty constant. It was busier around the first week back (in fall) though,” Wayner said.

Although prices at the bookstore may seem expensive, it remains an option for students because nearly every textbook required for college classes can be found there.

Cullen and Mercyhurst professors try to reduce these prices in order to save students money on books.

“My job is to keep the price down as much as I can,” Cullen said.

Professors review textbook editions and try to use the cheapest books with the most useful material, according to Cullen.

Despite efforts to save students money, buying books is expensive.
To help relieve this burden, students have the option of going to financial aid and applying to see if they are eligible for the Book Fund.

“Students can get roughly $100 toward books depending on how much they qualify,” Cullen said.

Mercyhurst tries its best to help students in this area, and all money spent at the bookstore goes straight back to the school and the students, he said.

Students can visit the book list on the Mercyhurst Portal by clicking Campus Life, Bookstore and Coffee Shop, then finding their campus list on the left.

This process helps students compare prices and find the best place to purchase textbooks for the upcoming term.