Textbooks: What is the Best Option?

By Zach Srnis

Textbook purchasing is something that is, in most cases, unavoidable. It is the extra fee that most students would rather not pay on top of their tuition. The current textbook situation has forced bookstores and other retailers to offer alternative methods to buying a new book.

Heather White, store manager of the Youngstown State University Bookstore, said the bookstore has been able to save students over $330,000 this semester through its cost-saving textbook options, including the textbook rental and price match programs.

“Course material affordability and access is a top priority for the Youngstown State University Bookstore,” said White. “We offer the largest selection of affordable course materials and textbooks in a variety of formats, including rental, used, new and digital so students can choose the option that best fits their learning style and budget.”

Zion Adissem, a journalism major at YSU, said that he prefers to avoid buying new books.

“I always try to rent first because most books are too expensive, new or used,” said Adissem. “Although if the book is for my major and it’s relatively cheap ($20-$40) and I feel like it’s something I can continue to use in the future, then I’ll buy it used or new.”

White mentioned that renting, since its inception in 2010, has become a popular option for students nationwide.

“Currently, 80 percent of textbook titles offered in the bookstore are available in the rental format,” said White. “When a textbook is available for rent, Youngstown State students chose the rental option 50 percent of the time.”

Anthony O. Davis, a political science major at YSU, prefers to rent or buy used books as well.

“The used books that I have purchased from the YSU bookstore have always been in good shape,” said Davis. “I usually use the rent option for books I know I will not need in the future. It’s also another money saving option as well.”

White also mentioned that the bookstore has alternative options to the physical book and the bookstore is there to help the student on day one.

“We provide students and faculty access to course materials from Open Educational Resources (OER) as well as OER Courseware solutions,” said White. “Our number one priority is to help students find the course materials they need to succeed at the most affordable prices. As a result, we offer course materials for every class on campus to ensure students are prepared for the first day of class, with the correct learning materials at the most affordable prices.”

White said that Barnes & Noble College’s mission for almost 50 years has been to help students save money on their college expenses and deliver the personal support needed for academic success.

“We introduced the first textbook rental program in the nation, and along with our incredible used books and buyback programs, have saved students over $1.5 billion to date,” White said. “We also give faculty complete price transparency when it comes to selecting the textbooks for their courses.”

White also mentioned it’s important to remember that the campus bookstore isn’t just about selling books.

“The bookstore is a key part of a student’s success both inside and outside the classroom. It has become the social hub on campus – the place new students go to for guidance and support,” said White.

In addition to renting, buying and reselling to campus bookstores, students often look to getting books online through services like Chegg and Amazon.