Beating book buying

Maggie Krohne

Students wisely shop for books to conserve cash


Freshman nursing majors Maria Mihailovich and Tara Flannigan just saved $100 on textbooks.

They didn’t win it as a prize, they didn’t have a magic coupon and they didn’t get a book scholarship.

They just learned from their previous mistakes.

“Last semester, I bought them at the Kent State Bookstore because I didn’t know there was anywhere else to go,” Mihailovich said. “I bought at DuBois this semester because I heard they were the cheapest. I was surprised by how much I saved. Last semester I spent around $350 to $400 and this semester only about $250.”

But Mivailovich’s choice to shop at DuBois is not the only way she saved money because she decided to share books this semester.

“We’re in the same major with the same classes,” Flannigan said. “It just made sense to share books with each other.”

These nursing majors are not the only ones cashing in on this bright idea — sharing the books and splitting the cost seems to be a growing trend among Kent State students.

Students have to find new ways to afford their books, said junior psychology major Ashley Baylor. It is difficult to keep up financially with textbooks when information is constantly changing.

“Last semester, I paid $120 for one book and only got $18 back for it,” Baylor said. “To me, it’s ridiculous to pay so much for information that is changing. Sometimes people go in and split the price of the book and share it. We do anything to make textbooks more affordable.”

The National Association of College Stores recently reported the average cost of books and supplies for a student per year rose from $727-$807 last year to $745-$843 this year. That 3.4 percent increase coupled with the 6 percent tuition increase is sending students searching for ways to cut corners financially.

Baylor often waits to buy her books after classes start, uncertain if she will indeed need them for the course.

“I buy what I feel are the most important books, and the ones I have money for first. Then I go to class and sometimes find out that I really don’t need a book, or that I do need one,” she said. “Sometimes you pay so much for a book and then the teacher doesn’t even use it. I just want to make sure I need it before I spend the money.”

Not every student buys their books solely on price. Some purchase them at the University Bookstore because the benefits outweigh the slightly higher cost.

The two biggest reasons students gave for shopping at University Bookstore were convenience and reliability.

“I usually buy my books here at the Kent State Bookstore because it’s more convenient and they can be trusted a little more,” said sophomore accounting major Robert Carson. “I know they’re going to have the right books I need for my classes. No one wants to pay this much for books, but comparatively I think the bookstore measures up all right.”

Even at DuBois bookstore, which is known around campus for cheaper prices, many students claim it is the service that keeps them coming back each semester.

“Service is the number one thing students shop here for,” said Hal DuBois, owner of DuBois Bookstore. “You think it would be low prices because everyone is so cost conscious about the price of textbooks. But the response we always get is that it’s the service, attitude and ease. You can just put your schedule down, and we have another student that will go get the books for you and know where they are because they’ve already done it 50 times that day. Students want convenience, and we’re able to give it to them.”

But DuBois is not the only bookstore fighting for Kent State students’ business. Campus Book and Supply gives students another option when price shopping for textbooks.

“Being the newest bookstore on campus, we try to keep book prices as low as possible,” manager Dean Kline said of Campus Book and Supply. “The two biggest things we strive for are better customer service and less expensive book prices.”

But one of the fastest growing alternatives to going to the book stores is online shopping. Web sites like, and Kent State’s own USS book exchange site let students who have more time to wait get their books for a considerably lower price.

With the cost of textbooks on the rise, whether students are shopping for price, convenience or reliability, the hunt for textbooks will most likely remain a costly one.

Contact features reporter Maggie Krohne at [email protected].