College Textbooks: Are students buying online or in store?


Taylor Richards – News Writer

The high price of textbooks each semester is almost unavoidable for all college students. Majors in the STEM fields, along with other research-based fields, like psychology or social work, require new texts each semester with a hefty price tag. While the bookstore offers almost all the books needed for each class, many students turn away from their high prices and look online or to their friends.

Nathalee Thompson, a communications major, does not like to rely on the bookstore for her textbooks each semester. She said she does not need that many in her field of study, but she’s had trouble getting books on time in the past.

“I don’t like using the bookstore because they always run out of books,” she said. “Usually I don’t have time to wait for them to restock, since it has taken weeks in the past. If I’m going to buy my own books, I usually check Amazon first since they’re more reliable.”

Thompson uses her friend’s excess financial aid, since her textbooks usually only cost around $20-$80 each. Bianca Flowers, a public health major, uses financial aid to pay for her textbooks. She likes the immediacy of getting her books at the school bookstore since sometimes things can “get lost in the mail.”

“I have excess financial aid each semester, so I use it to on books from the bookstore. It would be dumb of me to use my own money when I can use extra aid on something school-related,” said Flowers. “But a lot of my friends get their books online because it’s cheaper. I’m an RA in Farnham and we get textbook packages from Chegg and Amazon all the time.”

Ryan Pirro, business management major, said he thinks the rate of students getting their books at the bookstore is declining. He rents online as much as possible and if he needs to buy a book, he will sell it back to the van parked on campus instead of the bookstore, since he said they give him more cash.

Chance Lee-Casey, a computer science major, never buys textbooks.

“Most of my classes require books where I can find the PDF for them online for free,” said Lee-Casey. “If I can’t find the PDF, then I’m usually able to find a classmate who has it and can give it to me.”

Lee-Casey said he has everything he needs for class on his laptop and takes it with him to every class. Whenever his professors discuss textbooks at the beginning of the year, almost all of them tell the students to look online for a cheaper version, according to Lee-Casey.

Buying a semester’s worth of textbooks at the bookstore can run some students in certain majors hundreds of dollars.

“I was a biology major before switching to public health,” said Flowers. “I used to spend around $500 each semester on textbooks. Now I spend a lot less, around $300.”

Pirro said he also spends around $300 a semester, just for renting. He doesn’t care to keep his books since they are usually not used in more than one class. Thompson, however, said that she always buys used and keeps her books after her classes.

“My professors tell me to keep the textbooks because they’ll help us when we actually start working in our field,” she said. “It’s smart to keep them for our careers.”

Photo Credit: Jene Thomas – News Editor

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