(Orientation Issue) A short guide on getting your books

Cameron Gorman

In high school, you may have taken for granted the fact that textbooks were free. Now it’s more obvious than ever that buying them should be a well-thought-out process. With the cost of textbooks skyrocketing, it’s important to consider all options and methods for obtaining them before committing to one.

1. Where To Buy

At first, the answer might seem obvious: fulfill your required reading list at the university bookstore located conveniently in the Student Center. However, there are actually a variety of options when it comes to deciding where to buy your books.

Buying your books at Kent’s official bookstore is undoubtedly convenient. The store is right on campus, easily accessible from the dorms, and has a helpful staff on hand to help you find your textbooks based on class lists. At the school’s store, you have the option for most books of either buying or renting. And it’s not just for physical books in-store—you can rent or buy textbooks online, in varying conditions, and some digital copies. You’re free to underline and highlight, even in rented textbooks. When it’s time for returns, you can simply return it on campus. The bookstore is run by Barnes and Noble, which means you can use gift cards on orders, as well as pick up other merchandise like best-sellers, notebooks, pens and Kent State gear.

Buying on campus, however, can become costly when some books are only stocked in “new” condition or are unavailable for rent. Textbooks are also available for purchase at off-campus sites, even around Kent, in places like Campus Book and Supply, which has been in operation since 2002. Textbooks can be bought or rented from this location as well, and nearly the same rental policies apply. You cannot, however, buy online textbooks from most off-campus sites, and books sold are usually only available in one or two formats. You typically won’t get as many options on format, but if the campus bookstore is short on the book you need, off-campus is another option. The apparel sold in these types of shops is also typically less expensive than officially-licensed items.

The potentially least expensive option for those who plan far enough in advance is to simply order textbooks on the internet. Buying textbooks (like many things online) is often a gamble. Depending on where you’re looking, you could either end up with a bargain or a scam on your hands. Always make sure the seller is reputable. Online ordering doesn’t have to be sketchy, though. Sites like Chegg and Amazon make receiving and returning books simple—just be sure to keep all receipts and packaging so you can ship them back at the end of the semester. Alternatively, social media is a great place to get books from other students, provided they come through with the materials.

Where To Buy



Official Bookstore

  • Easy access

  • Straightforward organization and assistance

  • Offers many formats of books

  • Rent or buy

  • Highlight/take notes  in books

  • Sometimes more costly

Off-Campus Bookstore

  • May have copies others have run out of

  • Sometimes less expensive

  • Rent or buy most books

  • Highlight/ take notes in books

  • Usually no online versions available

  • May only have one format available

  • Not on campus


  • Convenient ordering

  • May be most cost-effective method, depending on website

  • Wide selection

  • Risk of scam

  • Prices on most official websites not far from book stores

  • Potential shipping delays

2. How should I purchase?

Now that you know where you want to purchase your books, you must decide what format of book is best for your classes. Renting books is the best option if you feel you either won’t need the book in the future or you’d like to save money on its purchase.

According to the University Bookstore’s website, the cost is about half of a new book, but you must return it within the store’s guidelines. (For the Kent State bookstore, that’s the last day of your semester finals.) Renting, then, may not be such a good idea for courses in your major, but rather classes such as Kent Core. You can buy your rental within the first two weeks of class. Buying a book, on the other hand, means that you don’t have to return it. It’s yours to keep for future reference, but the cost is much more than a temporary copy.

Format of Purchase




  • Less expensive

  • Can return books you won’t need in the future

  • Can still highlight/make notes in books

  • Can be purchased within first 2 weeks of class, if desired

  • Books must be returned at the end of the semester

  • Failure to return books results in fines

  • Other students may have markings inside


  • You own the book forever

  • Highlight/make notes in books

  • More costly

  • May not need it after the class ends

3. What type of book?

With most things, we’re quick to assume that new is better than used. It means we’re the first to experience the item, and it’s naturally what we tend to spring for. However, used textbooks may be a better option for those looking to save money. Because they are often marked up and slightly worn and torn, used textbooks are less expensive to rent or buy than brand new ones. New, though, allows for a “blank page” of sorts; if you’re going to use your textbook for multiple years and are considering buying it, it may be a good idea to go “new.” If you’re comfortable with your computer or tablet, e-books can provide this “new book” look and feel for less money as well. Digital books are often a more affordable, eco-friendly alternative, but many classes will recommend you have both a hard copy and an ebook anyway, for convenience and as a back up. With all your books on your laptop, carrying them around becomes much more convenient—but you’ll probably miss the tactile experience of taking notes and highlighting with pen-to-paper.

Type of Book




  • Never used, better condition

  • No marks inside

  • More expensive


  • More affordable

  • Quality of book poorer

  • Marks and notes inside book


  • Convenient

  • All on your laptop/ tablet, portable

  • Easy to use for those comfortable with computers

  • No hands-on highlighting or note taking

  • May need to buy both e-book and hard copy 

4. Do you really need it?

Nothing burns more than purchasing hundreds of dollars worth of textbooks and never using them in the corresponding class. The best way to avoid this is to wait until the first day of class when professors preview their syllabi, specifying if books are absolutely required. Sometimes, even if a book is listed as “required,” a professor may just be over-stating how much you will need it. Always keep in mind the library’s selection of textbooks; most professors will put their textbooks on reserve at the front desk for students to check-out for a few hours at a time.