While the cost of textbooks can often put a strain on students’ budgets, some are searching for alternative ways to purchase course materials off-campus. Students today have a variety of options ranging from online booksellers, textbook rental and e-books that can be accessed on smart phones, tablets or laptops.
Students who choose to buy directly from Amazon.com can purchase the same books sold at the SUPeStore, but at a lower price. Used books sold by Amazon users can be bought for prices significantly lower than list prices. However, used book prices will depend on the book’s condition.
“I bought my books from Off Campus Bookstore but then decided to look online to save a little money,” said Laura McKenzie Mall, a junior majoring in marketing. “It turns out I was able to save a couple hundred dollars by buying books on Amazon.”
Amazon also offers a rental service that will ship students the textbooks needed for a semester. At the end of the rental period, students can print off their return packaging slip and mail the books at any USPS location. Return shipping is free.
Kindle is Amazon’s version of an eReader that comes in various models and is also available as a free app on a variety of mobile devices. Most of the textbooks available on Amazon are also available as e-books for a lower rate through Kindle. Amazon Kindle does not, however, offer rentals on digital textbooks. Kindle prices are typically lower than Nook’s prices, however Kindle’s books are not available to be supported on Macs or PCs likethe Nook Study program.
Barnes & Noble Booksellers
Barnes & Noble pricing for new textbooks varies little from most booksellers, but B&N offers a used textbook marketplace that rivals Amazon in both price and quality. While the lowest price between the two go back and forth, B&N offers cheap shipping that can guarantee your books to you faster than many options with Amazon. Expedited shipping costs about $3 more and can guarantee students their books in three to six business days.
Books are available for rental in 60, 90 and 130 day periods (130 days will more than cover you for the semester). Book rental prices range from $30-$60 with most books falling right around $45. Standard shipping will only take one week maximum with an option to upgrade shipping to one to three business days for only $1 more in most cases. Return shipping is also free. Shipping labels are printed online and books are then brought to any UPS location.
Nook by Barnes & Noble
Nook is a reading device available through B&N, or on your computer through Nook Study. Recently, they have also developed a Nook app that can be downloaded for free on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. The device or app gives you access to millions of fiction and non-fiction titles for a lower price than print, as well as free titles similar to those found on iBook. However, unlike iBook, Nook has almost all of B&N’s textbooks available for purchase as eTextbooks.
Some students prefer the feel of a physical textbook over a tablet accessed e-book.
“I prefer to have my book in hand, using an eBook wouldn’t allow me to highlight and annotate my textbooks,” Matthew Sarazen, a junior majoring in accounting, said. “I always prefer to have a physical copy.”
iPad owners now have the option of downloading millions of titles straight to their Apple device. While iBook does not yet offer textbook downloads, the store does offer inexpensive fiction and nonfiction requirements for classes in departments such as English and history. Some of the more classic books can even be found for free. Works by Shakespeare, Hemingway, Poe, Dickens and many renowned authors are available through iBook at no cost.