E-Reader serves as more cost effective alternative to bookstore prices

College is a phenomenal learning experience, but the cost, as most know, is pretty far out of the park. Tuition, fees, room and board add up pretty quickly.

Those costs, enumerated on an actual bill seem outrageous, but there are other costs for education that are equally ridiculous, but more overlooked because they are not added up on a piece of paper.

Books for classes, especially, are a cost that many cannot afford.

While some students become pretty crafty in their methods to obtain the required texts for classes, many more either don’t deal with the hassle or don’t realize just how much pocket money they can save.

Being a double major in English and Religious Studies has taught me to vary my methods in looking for the texts for a course. The bookstore may be convenient, but it is also the most expensive option the majority of the time.

For three classes in a single term, I have had as many as 22 required books, costing well over $200 when added up. Most of those books, I was able to find much cheaper online, but with the cost of shipping, they were still very expensive.

A couple of the texts, mostly works of literature, I bought in the bookstore because the cost of shipping put them in the same price range.

But buying all 22 of the texts online, even with shipping, would have saved me over $50. I could have saved even more money by checking out some of the books from the library, though.

Over time, I have learned to look at all possible vendors, including the bookstore. More often than not, I buy books from half.com, an eBay company affiliate. For this next term, however, I changed my strategy.

Rather than looking to buy hard copies of books, I looked for digital versions. I received a Nook e-reader for Christmas, and am extremely grateful because it has already saved me even more money than just buying books online, in addition to its other benefits.

For my two classes for next term, I had to buy 11 books. Of those, only three are actual hard copies.

I was skeptical of buying e-books at first, but after buying the eight books and experimenting with the capabilities of my Nook, I am excited about the possibilities, especially for writing papers, because it will allow me to highlight, annotate, and even search the text of the books.

The prices, however, led me over the edge.

The Nook store was not an option because of the pricey books, but after looking around a bit, I found a free computer program, Calibre, that lets me convert Kindle books to work for other devices. For the eight e-books, I only spent $22, just over the cost of the three used books with shipping.

Sometimes, the bookstore is competitive with the online market, but its monopoly on textbook purchasing allows the prices to get too out of hand most of the time.

Students need to weigh all of their options, whether e-books, buying new or used books online, or even renting textbooks, and find out the most beneficial and cost-effective option available.