With college tuition on the rise, it can be a challenge for some students to allocate money for their education. On top of food, gasoline, bills and basic school supplies, students regularly purchase textbooks, which can quickly drain bank accounts.
Though there are options to save money on textbooks such as renting or buying used books, students such as civil engineering junior Kevin McFadden, who spent approximately $300 on textbooks winter quarter, still experience buyer’s remorse when a book is barely used.
“I rented one textbook from (El Corral) bookstore for $80 that I hardly used,” McFadden said. “I easily could have used course reserves instead.”
Recreation, parks and tourism administration sophomore Lindsay Freund also has this problem. She said she spent $200 on textbooks last quarter, and did not feel she got her money’s worth because she hardly used some of her books.
When a student is certain they will use a specific book for a class though, there are ways to save money on top of buying them used, according to business administration junior Mackenzie Stack.
“I used my $120 intermediate accounting book fall (quarter) as well as winter, so really it was like $60 per quarter,” Stack said. “I also split an online finance book with a friend.”
But if a student does not want to share a book or thinks they will not be able to use a book multiple quarters, renting is also a popular choice.
Websites such as Chegg.com or Knetbooks.com have been popular textbook rental sites for years, and more recently campus bookstores have jumped on the bandwagon.
El Corral bookstore employee and agribusiness senior Ethan Larson said he’s seen a recent trend of students opting out of purchasing textbooks.
“In the last couple of quarters, the number of students renting from (El Corral bookstore) has definitely picked up,” Larson said.
Aside from difficulties arising from where to purchase a book, students also deal with other uncontrollable problems when buying textbooks.
Landscape architecture senior Amanda Bender’s textbook didn’t come in on time, forcing her to spend more money, on top of the $269 she has already spent.
“A book I needed wouldn’t be delivered until the day after the paper I had to write about it was due, so I had to run to the bookstore and buy a second copy of the same book,” Bender said.
McFadden has also ended up with two copies of the same book, but for different reasons.
“I once bought two used books that came as a packaged deal from SLO Textbooks because it was a volume 1, volume 2 kind of deal for the same class,” McFadden said. “Halfway through the quarter, when we started using the second book, I realized that they were actually both the same book. One was just a much older copy that looked different from the other.”
McFadden said when he took them back to SLO Textbooks the employee who helped him acknowledged the mistake, but didn’t have any copies of the correct book. He was also told the store would not refund him for one because he was only charged for one book in the first place.
Other students have had less than perfect experiences when returning their books as well.
“I tried to return a book from fall quarter that was $115 from SLO Textbooks on Friday of week one during winter quarter, since that is typically the last day to return books, but they wouldn’t take it because Thursday was the last day,” Stack said. “This information was stapled onto my receipt, but I felt scammed because I actually tried going Thursday, and they had closed early.”
Psychology senior Kelli Hoffert said she feels like she is undercut by the bookstore too because she is typically only refunded 10 percent of her money, if anything, when selling books back. After her freshman year, she started selling back to Amazon.com and nothing has gone wrong since.
Because of the potential problems and often expensive costs of buying textbooks, students such as Bender said they have better uses for their time and money.
“I would buy better groceries and gas,” Bender said. “I also would not have to work as much and could focus more on school work.”