Textbook purchase options help students save money



Nathan Havenner

With prices on the rise, students are looking at the different ways to get the best deals for textbooks. From 2002 to 2012, the average cost of a textbook increased by 82 percent, according to a 2013 report issued by the Government Accountability Office.

Straying from university bookstores, whose textbooks are traditionally pricey, students are getting creative, buying used books or in some cases, renting textbooks or seeking out the e-book versions.

A traditional go-to for textbooks, purchases made at Kent State’s University Bookstore support the university, said Curtis Lamb, the bookstore’s textbook director. He said he encourages students to consider the University Bookstore when choosing where to buy books.

“A portion of every sale goes back to fund programs at the university,” Lamb said. “I think that is the most important thing.”

Some students, like sophomore exercise science major Hannah Kovach, choose to purchase their books from the University Bookstore, located on campus. Kovach said the University Bookstore was the only place she could find the textbooks she needed.

Students looking for bargain textbooks often buy from Campus Book and Supply on South Lincoln Street. This bookstore is able to provide textbooks at a cheaper price because they are a smaller, privately owned company, said textbook manager Lindsey Nagy.

“We are a full-service bookstore,” she said. “You can place your order online and when you come in we’ll have it ready for you.”

Another option for students hoping to save money is subscribing to digital versions of published textbooks. E-books typically cost about 50 percent less than purchasing the print version, according to statistics released by the University of Michigan.

Lamb said that e-book sales increase as today’s tech-savvy students purchase more tablets for class.

“We are seeing something like double digit increases in our digital e-book sales,” Lamb said. “I think e-books were almost created for the tablet. Tablets are perfect for students that want to just carry the one item and download all their course materials to that one tablet.”

However, not all students prefer e-books over the printed version.

Kovach said she prefers printed textbooks to e-books, especially when the textbook is one she will use during later semesters.

If students don’t feel comfortable downloading an e-book version of a textbook, they might consider other ways of finding a discount. Senior hospitality management major Kristin Bisheimer said she orders her textbooks through an online retailer.

“It is way cheaper,” she said. “I’ll get emails about different prices.”

Bisheimer said she has never had any issues with ordering her textbooks online, or with them always arriving on time.

With these different options, students have the ability to decide where, when and how they purchase the textbooks they need.

Nathan Havenner is the student finance reporter for the Kent Stater.

Contact Nathan Havenner at [email protected].