Students have many options when shopping for textbooks

By Katherine Klingseis, katherine.klingseis@iowastatedaily.com

College is expensive. In addition to the high prices of tuition and housing, students also have to pay for their textbooks. Depending on their major, a student can pay over $1,000 for textbooks per semester. However, there are ways to keep this cost down.

ISU students have many options for where and how they would like to get their books. A common choice for new students is to buy their books on campus at either the Campus Book Store or the Iowa State University Book Store.

“We are the official clearinghouse for all textbook orders,” said Amy DeLashmutt, marketing manager at the Iowa State University Book Store. “That means that all of the orders from the faculty come directly through us.”

DeLashmutt said shopping at the University Book Store ensures that students get the exact books needed for their classes.

“Even sometimes when you’re shopping online, you’ve got to be really careful to get the exact same book and the exact same edition, looking out for international editions, making sure it’s not just a component – that it’s everything you need,” DeLashmutt said. “Here, you know that you’re going to get everything need for your class.”

When a student registers for classes during orientation, DeLashmutt explained that they can also reserve their textbooks at that time, and then pick up their reserved textbooks a week before classes begin.

“For an incoming student, what we really pride ourselves on is offering them the options of textbooks reservation where they can take the whole thought of buying books off their mind,” DeLashmutt said. “We want to keep it easy for them, knowing it can be an adjustment that first semester.”

The University Bookstore and the Campus Book Store both offer new and used books. Rental textbooks are also available at the University Bookstore.

“[Rentals] can be anywhere from 40 to 80 percent less than purchasing a book,” DeLashmutt said. “All you’re doing is paying a rental fee, so you’re agreeing that you are going to rent the book for a semester and you’re going to return it by 5 p.m. the Friday of finals.”

The University Book Store also started offering Ebooks on a select number of textbook titles last semester.

“We sold a lot of Ebooks last year – much more than we expected that we would,” DeLashmutt said. “That was, again, just to keep the price low for students.”

DeLashmutt also said the University Book Store will be offering a price comparison tool for students. The tool will compare the prices of books at the University Book Store to the prices at online stores like Amazon.com and Half.com.

“We want people to see that we are very competitively priced,” DeLashmutt said. “And, if there’s an instance where we’re just not as competitively in the market as we need to be, you have the options to see exactly what’s out there and make a decision that’s best for you.”

As DeLashmutt said, some online stores will offer students a better deal than the book stores on campus can. For instance, some sellers on Amazon will offer to sell a book at a low price in order to get rid of it quickly. However, be warned that sometimes online sellers are not honest about the quality of the book they are selling.

Chegg.com is also a good online database for students to check. Chegg offers its customers the ability to rent textbooks for discount prices. The rental process works the same as the process at the University Book Store except for customers at Chegg must ship their books to the company to return them.

Whether a student chooses to buy on campus or online, to buy new or used, to rent or buy, or to buy a hardcopy or an Ebook, he or she should know that there are options. It is always a good idea to take the time to explore these options and get the best deals.

(Posted originally on Iowastatedaily.com on May 31, 2011)

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