Students hunt for book deals online and in line

Anthony Holloway

A DuBois Book Store employee assists senior music major Joe Stanton with his textbook purchases. Stanton said he has been going to DuBois since his freshman year. Glennis Siegfried | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

School started two days ago, and many students are scrambling through bookstores, trying to score deals on costly textbooks. But even some teachers agree that students’ best option may be to search the World Wide Web.

“If you’re interested in the least expensive version of a textbook, then you’re going to want to go online,” said Scott Bunge, assistant professor of chemistry. “The bookstore is going to offer deals on occasion, especially on certain packages . but in general, that’s not going to be your best deal.”

Several ways to locate which books you need for class

• Go to the bookstore with all course information and look through the aisles to find books.

• Visit the bookstore’s Web site and use course information to find out which text is needed.

• Wait until the first day of class to find out directly from the instructor.

While the bookstore may not always be the cheapest option for students, Bunge said shopping there is a guaranteed way to get the book required for the course.

Bunge especially recommended talking to instructors. He said it’s the best way to know the correct text – hear it from the teacher’s mouth.

Sophomore exploratory major Ryan Fitzgerald said he waited until last weekend to pick out his books. He said he thinks the Internet is the best route to go when finding the best textbook deals.

“That’s something I kind of regret not doing last year because a lot of people get really good prices,” he said. “A lot of people go on eBay and stuff like that. I’m thinking about doing that.”

Fitzgerald warns freshmen to beware of the complications multiple editions can cause when finding a textbook.

Melissa Parkinson, senior interior design major, said she stresses about finding the right textbook edition for a decent price.

One thing to consider when shopping online is the cost of shipping and handling if the book is bought from sites such as or

Parkinson said she starts looking for her books a month or so in advance to find the used copies.

Sarah Dressig, senior human development and family studies major, said one piece of advice she would give to freshmen is to not go to the bookstore because “it’s too expensive.”

Dressig said she uses Web sites, and She recommended that students search online but said she thinks it’s best not to pick the first book you find.

Beyond the normal ways of finding textbooks, she said there are other alternatives, like renting them from

Aayush Phumbrha, co-founder of, said textbook rentals could save students substantial amounts of money.

“Well, renting saves students 65 percent to 85 percent, so if you buy a $100 book from the bookstore, you rent that book from Chegg from anywhere from $30 to $40. So that’s a huge amount of savings,” Phumbrha said.

He said the Web site offers a 30-day, any-reason guarantee of a full refund. The policy covers anyone dropping a class. On top of that, Phumbrha said students have the option of buying the rented book.

“Students can buy a book if they want to keep it the rest of the semester, rest of the class, and they still end up paying less than what they would pay in the bookstore,” Phumbrha said.

Other futuristic textbook models have emerged with e-books, digitized versions of textbooks.

Diane Stroup, associate professor of chemistry, said she thinks the Kindle II is a step in the right direction of a true e-textbook.

But one difficulty Stoup sees with Kindle is its limited textbook availability and the $200 price tag just for the device itself. The prices of textbooks range from $5 to $100.

Bunge said he thinks timing is the key to when e-textbooks will be worth switching to.

“Just recently, the books have been coming out with enough quality that it would be worth switching over to an e-book,” he said. “But there’s perhaps still a generation of ironing out that needs to be done before the e-books for the science classes are going to be good enough to switch over to.”

Contact student finance reporter Anthony Holloway at [email protected].

Listen to Aayush Phumbrha, co-founder of, talk about how renting books from Chegg can save students money.