Students afforded choices when buying textbooks

Steve Chapman

One of the main expenses for any student, next to tuition, is the cost of textbooks. Depending on the class, textbooks can cost anywhere from under $10 to well over $200. In the past, students might be able to purchase a textbook cheap from another student who had just taken the same class, but textbooks usually had to be purchased from the campus bookstore.

Today, with the rise of online merchants such as and E-bay, students now have more choices as to where they can purchase their textbooks. Online stores can offer big savings on the cost of textbooks.

“I was able to find a book for $12 that would have cost me $150 on campus,” pre-nursing major Tiffany Carlson said in an e-mail interview.

Lori Brooks, a psychology major, agrees. “I bought my books from Chegg (an online store) and got them super fast and super cheap,” she said.

When price is the only consideration for purchasing textbooks, it might seem like a no-brainer to buy textbooks through an online retailer. However, there are actually several advantages to purchasing books on campus rather than online, according to Kelsie Farley, bookstore customer service associate at the Crowder bookstore.

“If you were to buy your books off Amazon, you have to resell those books on your own,” Farley said. “You have to invest the time, put them out there online, (or) try to sell them to a friend. (But) if you bought your books here, we say ‘okay, we’ll give you a 60% on all your eligible textbooks.’

“So you’re automatically getting 60%; you don’t have to…put forth the time and effort (to sell them). You just have to come in, bring your books into any of our campuses. That is a really good benefit there, because you’re not guaranteed to get a certain price on the Internet, or you’re just stuck with the books.”

Another benefit is there is less risk for students when they purchase through the bookstore, Farley stated. “You get to see the merchandise before you purchase it, so you can…make sure it’s in good condition.”

Carlson agrees. Though she did manage to purchase a textbook at a major discount, she said she still prefers to get her books at the bookstore because “I have someone in person with me in case I have questions about the book.”

Farley also pointed out if the instructor changes the text at the last minute, the bookstore will purchase back the original text. “You have a good guarantee of getting your books bought back from us if it’s an instructor issue, where as online you don’t,” she said.

The bookstore also allows the students flexibility in the ways they pay for their books. For example, financial aid might be used to cover the costs of books.

“We…do payment plans through the cashiers office, so you can put (your textbooks) on your account and pay for them throughout the semester.”

Though books can sometimes be purchased cheaper online, some students prefer face-to-face dealings at the bookstore. Jasmine Jacobs said she purchases all of her books at the bookstore “because of the convenience and friendly staff.”

It is worth noting that textbooks do not always cost less when purchased online. Accounting major Heather Trystman stated she saved money when purchasing her books at the bookstore. “I prefer buying on campus, simply because the books seem to be a little cheaper,” she said in an e-mail interview.

Though books might cost less online, the competition hasn’t hurt Crowder book sales any, according to Farley. “Our sales have kept growing, year after year,” she said.