With textbook prices high, students seek cheaper options

In today’s economy many people are concerned about their financial situation. For students at South Puget Sound Community College, scraping up enough money to pay for tuition can be very difficult in and of itself.

However, after the relief of making it into your choice classes approaches the financial hurdle of buying books.

Textbooks can be insanely expensive, and this expense is oftentimes the last straw that breaks a student’s wallet.

As students settle into fall quarter and prepare for winter here at SPSCC, The Sounds decided to poke around campus to see where students go to avoid the pinch.

Where students go to buy books is something of a mixed bag. Some students decide to buy books at the SPSCC bookstore.

The bookstore does not charge shipping and is guaranteed to have any of the textbooks you may need for a class. There are also cheaper purchase options for used and rental books.

However, the bookstore is definitely not the cheapest option out there. Many students choose to hunt around in the book sections of Goodwill stores or second hand bookshops.

“The benefit is that while they aren’t new, they’re often pre-highlighted for you!” said Erica Lee, a student in her second year at SPSCC.

Other students prefer book shopping from the comfort of their own couch. Purchasing books online can often be the cheapest option out there. Students can easily get the majority of their books used, or rent them for up to 75 percent off the regular price.

When asked where he buys his books, SPSCC student Ethan Nelson said, “Amazon. I would like to support the school by buying books here, but it is just too expensive.”

Other students have found favorites in Chegg.com, Textbooks.com, or to slap together a creative mix of multiple sources.

Running Start student Will Cochran said, “I just buy them wherever I can save money.”

On the other half of the book-buying process lies our faculty. In many classes, professors have some flexibility in choosing which books they want to use.

Whether or not their choices reflect their attentiveness to cost depends on the individual. English Professor Kevin Asman recently discussed changing one of the required textbooks for those taking his intro to literature course in the future.

Refreshingly, he asked his students what they would like to see covered in a new textbook. This feedback would be used in choosing the new book for the course the next time around.

Other professors have done the same in the past, such as Professor Peter Rex whose choice of, “A Novel Approach to Politics,” was a big hit with his political science 201 class last winter.

In many cases however, the cost of a textbook will not be a major factor in a professor’s choice unless they can only be purchased new. Asman told his intro to literature course that even though he requires specific books for his class, he does not always favor the most recent editions. This ends up being more cost-effective for students.

For some professors, cost is not a large issue in choosing textbooks. There are currently plenty of ways to buy books for far beneath the price of purchasing them brand-new.