Rising textbook prices force students to seek other options

Students are buying textbooks online due to their lower cost and conveniencyStudents are buying textbooks online due to their lower cost and conveniency

According to The College Board, in one year, the average college student can spend up to $1,000 on textbooks. At this rate, the cost of textbooks can add up to approximately 75 percent the cost of tuition.

While the average Mercyhurst College student only spends approximately $460 on college textbooks, it is always important to search for the most economical solution to purchasing books.

When it comes to buying the term’s textbooks, besides relying on campus bookstores, many students rely on resale book stores and websites.

In the hunt for reduced prices, students turn to Web sites such as Amazon, Half.com, and Ebay.

In addition to these solutions for cheaper books, another website, dontbuytextbooks.net, has a unique answer to the search for textbooks. Rose Anderson, the creator of the Web site, believes that it is time to “think outside the book.”

From dontbuytextbooks.net, students have the option of either renting hard copies or purchasing digital copies of certain texts.

Hard copies of books can be rented from sites such as Chegg.com, Skoobit.com, and Bookrenter.com. These Web sites provide students with the option of renting for a semester, quarter, or summer and charge rental fees by the book. They also guarantee user-friendly site navigation, titles organized by ISBN and that all rental textbooks will be in respectable condition.

By renting books, many times students can save anywhere between 50 percent and 85 percent the cost of college textbooks. For example, a book such as Jansen’s History of Art would cost approximately $140 at a college book store, $79 on Amazon and $55 to rent from a site like Chegg.com.

These rental textbooks are also available for purchase. While some students see this as a great opportunity to save some extra cash and go green, others also see drawbacks to renting a college text.

“I would like to able to write in my books and it seems strange to pay for a book that you are not able to keep or write in,” sophomore Emily Alden said.

In any rental situation, quality can never be completely guaranteed and many students enjoy having ownership of a text. In regard to price, rental Web sites do keep the costs of renting as low as possible.

In some cases, renting textbooks can save students some money, but other times it can cost the same as buying and reselling a book at our bookstore.

“Renting books is the same thing as our used book program, just marketed with a spin,” Dan Cullen, the general manager of the Mercyhurst College Bookstore, said.

While it is possible to rent a book from sites like Chegg.com for less than the list price, if a book is bought at a used price and then resold to the book store (same concept as renting), many times the “usage” price will be more economical than what is offered by Chegg.com. Rental sites can also charge ridiculous costs for late fees, condition penalties and extended rental terms.

As far as being green is concerned, reusing textbooks decreases the demand for the printing new books and the consumption of virgin fiber paper. Sites such as Chegg.com also purchase used textbooks from students to add to their database.

While sophomore Annakate Cornelius didn’t rent her books for the fall term, she is considering the option.

“If I can rent books from these sites, I might as well give it a try and see how it works,” Cornelius said.

Textbook renting is still a new option for college students and with the rising costs of textbooks, many may begin to explore this new avenue. In order to find the best deals, one must be aware of the true costs of the books that they are purchasing and take into consideration all aspects of the process.