Students pass on textbooks

Abbey Stirgwolt

As spring semester shifts into high gear and students become used to their course loads, many are beginning to wonder if the $106 they shelled out for that brand new Macroeconomics book would have been better spent on 15 visits to Chipotle.

A study released in July by the U.S. Government Accountability Office revealed “since December of 1986, textbook prices have nearly tripled, increasing by 186 percent,” prompting many students to jump off the textbook train in favor of surviving without.

Evan Hayford, sophomore English as a second language and Spanish major, is one of these. He decided not to buy his Oceanography textbook this semester because the class notes are posted on the Internet.

“The notes are online, so I figured I could get away without it,” he said.

A related study, conducted at various public and private Virginia colleges by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, reported that more than “40 percent of respondents could not afford to purchase textbooks for one or more semesters.”

To avoid paying unnecessary textbook expenses, some students wait until they receive their class syllabuses – and in some cases, even longer – before deciding whether textbooks are worth buying.

Hayford said he has already bought one book this semester he won’t need for his English class, but he plans to keep it because “it was cheap.” He estimated he spent $350 on textbooks this semester.

Other students find more creative ways to save money.

For a class at her previous college, sophomore theater major Robin Shorter collaborated with the other students in her class to purchase a single copy of a book.

“We all pitched in and bought one photocopied book,” she said.

Senior marketing major Eric Woodruff also took an a typical approach to textbook money-saving.

“One semester, I took a digital picture of every page of every one of my books and got a complete refund for them,” he said. “I felt like I one-upped the university.”

Still, other students, such as freshman fashion merchandising major Kristin Bonecutter, prefer to buy books ahead of time, regardless of cost.

“I always buy my books before the semester starts because I’m a nerd like that,” she said.

Even if she found after the semester began that she wouldn’t really need a textbook, Bonecutter said she would probably keep it just in case.

“In my Macroeconomics class, it can get pretty hard to understand, so it’ll help to have the book,” she said.

Contact technology reporter Abbey Stirgwolt at [email protected].