Online textbooks cheap; students still wary

Meranda Watling

Gone are the days of the bookstore monopoly. Today, for those unwilling to embrace the crowds or dole out what the bookstores charge, the Internet offers the books you need at prices that won’t push you further into debt. is one place to check for lower prices. Books are listed according to price and condition, from least expensive to most expensive and from new to acceptable.

Owned by eBay,, is similar to the “buy-it-now” option on eBay. There are a lot of sellers offering the same thing. Buyers pick a seller, read his or her comments, read the feedback left by other buyers and order the book.

But don’t expect to have the book in your hands in time for your first class. It could take awhile to get your textbooks. That’s what sophomore nursing major Erin Baker learned when she ordered through She and a friend ordered a history textbook that didn’t arrive for two weeks.

“We had to read it and do a report on it. We got it just in time,” she said. “After that fiasco, I said, ‘Eh, let’s just go to the bookstore.’ ”

For those unwilling or unable to wait for online books to arrive, the Undergraduate Student Senate’s Book eXchange ( allows you to hook up with students trying to rid themselves of the textbooks you need.

The Book eXchange currently has 595 books for sale. Students selling books have their contact information available for potential buyers.

Trying to return books if you drop a class or the book changes can be difficult if bought online. Junior accounting major Amanda Geabler said she is wary of buying books online because of a friend’s bad experience.

“My friend got her book online, but when she got to class it had changed. It was a new edition or something,” she said. “She couldn’t take it back and still had to buy a new book.”

If you don’t feel comfortable ordering from individuals, you can often save money by going to companies like and, which sell books directly.

For more security, you may wish to go with recognizable online companies such as or Both Amazon and Barnes and Noble offer free shipping on orders $25 or more but charge prices closer to the list price. Often, you can find the books cheaper by using Amazon’s Marketplace or Barnes and Noble’s BookQuest, which allow individuals to list and sell books.

If students don’t have time to scour all the sites available to find the one with the lowest price, Web sites like and make it easy for students to search several stores for the cheapest price., for example, searches sites like,,, and, just to name a few. Within 60 seconds, the Web site claims, it will return the stores offering the book you need new or used, listing them from the cheapest to most expensive.

Price isn’t always the most important consideration. Finding the right book online is harder than it is at the store. That’s why Guinevere Copeland, junior special education major, said she goes to DuBois Bookstore instead of ordering online.

“I go to DuBois so I know I get the right book,” she said. “I hand them my schedule, and they do the work.”

Contact technology reporter Meranda Watling at [email protected].