Saving money; college textbook buying guide

Photo by David Armelino

College students across the Unites States all have at least one thing in common, they are required to, one way or another, pay for their own textbooks.

Many college students also share the opinion that textbooks cost far too much, sometimes collectively selling on average for $370, according to the National Association for College Stores.

Money is most certainly one of the biggest problems that college students encounter right out of high school, and when it comes to paying for textbooks, there are three options that students can elect to make use of.

First, there is the option of buying the books at full price, new or used, with the ability to sell the book back at the end of the semester, or simply keep it.

Renting has also become a trend on the rise, with almost 80 percent of college stores providing the alternative as of the 2011-2012 school year, compared to just 68 percent the school year prior, according to the National Association of College Stores.

Finally, there is the ever popular e-book selection.  E-books have their positives, as well as their negatives, just like the rest of these choices.

SUNY Oswego junior and human development major, Alyssa Rioux, finds that purchasing books on her e-reader is the best option.

“Since I have a Kindle, I tend to find some books on there that I can use that are less expensive, rather than buying the physical book,” Rioux said.

Listen to what students have to say about e-books here:

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The only real disadvantages to e-books are that there is no buy-back feature and there are limited, if any, options to rent books.

When it comes to purchasing the new or used textbook, SUNY Oswego junior and criminal justice major, Justin McGriff, says he benefits from being able to sell his books back at the end of the school year to have a little extra cash.

If the student wanted to keep his or her book after the semester concluded to use for further reading, they have the option to keep it.

SUNY Oswego junior and criminal justice major, Ethan Berger, looked passed these advantages to owning the book, and instead went with renting his.

“[I opted for] renting, just because it’s cheaper [up front] than buying the whole textbook.”  Berger said.

This is the appeal to renting for most students, however, with renting books, it is generally frowned upon when there is writing or highlighting within the book upon return.

If a student decides to go the route of buying his or her textbooks, the process of selling them back at the end of the semester can be quite a chore.

Textbook buy-back event. Image from

Finding where to sell back books can be a rather big decision for some students, like Ms. Rioux, who says that not all stores are the same when it comes to buying back books.

“If you bring them back to the campus store, you won’t get that much money back compared to the price that you originally paid,” Rioux said.  “If you bring them back to Kraftees (an independent college book store in Oswego, NY), you get more back for your books.”

When it all comes down to it, these options are all similar in that they have their advantages and disadvantages and when buying textbooks for college, it’s all a matter of preference.

Here are some of the funnier tweets I’ve found while researching: