File photo by Jessica Aparicio
One of the biggest things I dread at the beginning of each semester is purchasing my textbooks for classes.
First, the amount of time I devote to searching for the best prices for my books is dreadful enough, but after I find them, I’m scared to check my bank account.
This is the same fear that many other students feel.
College students are constantly trying to find new ways to pay less for textbooks.
Some California Lutheran University students purchase their textbooks online for a lower price on websites such as Amazon or Chegg, while others order directly from the Campus Store.
The beginning of a semester is already an expensive time of the year as students decorate their dorms, purchase school supplies and food, pay tuition and travel to campus from across the country and globe.
The cost of textbooks is an additional strain.
I typically try to pick up extra hours at work to help cover the cost of textbooks and try to find other ways to minimize the impact of the cost.
Anna Wells, Cal Lutheran Campus Store manager, said in a phone interview that in an effort to encourage more students to purchase from the Campus Store, they try to price match online retailers as much as possible.
“If you see something on Amazon or Chegg that’s a lot less we actually price match up to one hundred dollars,” Wells said.
Angie Parra, a senior at Cal Lutheran, said in a phone interview that this semester, “actually some of the books on Amazon were more expensive and the bookstore was cheaper.”
This semester I was also able to find cheaper textbooks in the Campus Store.
It’s a matter of supply and demand.
Wells said that the more copies of a book the store has in stock, the cheaper they can price the book.
“Religion classes are pretty high in demand on this campus, so our books are gonna cost less just because there’s so much demand and I can order twice as much,” Wells said.
She also mentioned that renting is typically between 20-30% cheaper than purchasing textbooks, depending on the book.
Melissa Tobey, a senior at Cal Lutheran, said she typically tries to get e-book versions of her textbooks. She said that she prefers them over physical textbooks and they tend to be cheaper.
“I normally check Amazon first and then if I can’t find it there I’ll look on Chegg and normally both of those places have all of my books,” Tobey said. “If I can’t find the e-books through those two sites then I will resort to buying physical textbooks.”
Before the lengthy price-comparing process even begins, some students make an initial Google search for free online versions of textbooks or ask other students if they still have their copy from when they took the class.
Wells said it is in students’ best interest to order their textbooks the week before school starts.
“It does make a big difference if you order early … so they can get the first choice of used books versus new books,” Wells said.
However, many professors require the latest editions, making it harder to find used textbooks.
Wells said that the campus store accepts returns if a student purchases a book and then discovers that it is no longer needed for the class, or if the professor changed the book.
Despite this, it can still be challenging to find textbooks at a reasonable price.
Textbooks are tools that students need to succeed in almost every class, and yet these tools can send us further into debt.
There should be easier ways for students to get their hands on affordable learning materials.