Students look for ways to save money on textbooks

Adrienne Burch

The average college student spends $655 a year on course materials, according to the recent OnCampus Research study by the National Association of College Stores.

“Books are one of the largest expenses I have dealt with as a college student,” said Leslee Griggers, a senior majoring in business management. “They are just so expensive.”

Though the high prices appear daunting, many students have figured out ways to avoid purchasing textbooks – or at least how to make them much less expensive. In addition, some students are able to offset costs with the introduction of digital books, e-books and textbook rental options.

Students claim to spend more money on textbooks as freshmen than any other year in college because freshmen are often unaware of these different options.

“I buy fewer books now than I did my freshman year because I feel like in the basic classes, you need them more,” Griggers said. “But when you get to more advanced classes, you may not need the book because the teacher uses other outside resources.”

Griggers said this semester she only had to purchase one book for her five classes. The more time students spend at the University, the more familiar they become with the book-purchasing process.

They begin to learn ways to save money and avoid purchasing materials that are not necessary such as waiting until after the first day of class to decide about ordering textbooks.

“I always wait until after the first day before I buy any books,” Griggers said. “Usually the teacher is really good about telling you whether you need it or not.”

Adam Hofer, a junior majoring in finance, said he tries not to buy books unless there is information in them that the teacher will not cover in lecture.

Students like Griggers and Hofer have also been successful in finding cheaper options when the textbook is a necessity.

Griggers said she now uses the Off-Campus Bookstore to find less-expensive options, while Hofer buys all of his textbooks from Amazon.com.

Terry Douthit, owner of Off-Campus Bookstore, said that his store has seen a decline in business with the emergence of different media formats for textbooks. However, he said they are still able to maintain business.

“Some people are very particular to a hardback, some people are very particular to an e-book and some people are very particular to the cheapest book,” Duthit said.

Duhit said he believes the Off-Campus Bookstore is the ideal option because of its convenience and cheaper prices. However, the recent addition of online codes to the different types of course materials does not allow for cheaper options such as online markets, used bookstores, or opting out of purchasing a book altogether.

Many courses now require students to purchase these online access codes to complete assignments and access course materials. Hofer said he feels like companies are price gauging with these codes that students are required to purchase.

“You can’t buy used codes or rent codes,” Hofer said. “Textbooks you can get on Amazon for a few dollars sometimes.”