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Textbooks: A College Student’s Guide To Beating Bookstore Prices

by Dominique Johnson | Temple University

F Posted in: College P Posted on: August 7, 2012
Books Image courtesy of Flickr, user brody4.

One of the burdens of being a college student is the overpricing of required textbooks. However, although the high prices can be overwhelming, college students are know for being resourceful, and employ various methods of beating bookstore prices.


Aaron Moser, a rising senior at Swarthmore College, said he finds purchasing books from such outlets as Amazon is a fair and easy way to get his books.

“Sometimes I can find new books there for the cost of the used ones they sell in our school bookstore,” Moser said. “The best and easiest way however, is to get the books from other students who just took the class the year before.”

Student Exchanges

Moser added that he is a part of a Swarthmore Facebook group in which older students post about various books they are selling.

This method of buying and selling books, Moser said, is a good way to get books you may need at a cheap price, and also to get something back for your books when you are finished with them.

“The school bookstore offers to buy back your books at the end of each semester, but they usually only give you a fraction of the price,” Moser said. “Selling one to a friend or acquaintance, both sides will feel like it was a good deal if you sell it for half price.”

“I definitely would suggest that students at other schools start similar networks. It’s a quick and cheaper way to do it, and the money stays in the hands of students.”

Used Books

Michelle-Saul Yamasaki, a rising sophomore at Temple University, plans on buying used books this upcoming semester instead of purchasing them for their full price from local retailers. Once a fan of renting books, Yamasaki said she switched over to used books because of the cheaper price and better condition they appear to be in as opposed to their overpriced counterparts. Additionally, she said, it is much more convenient.

“Once I called and visited a bunch of bookstores to find a particular book, but no luck,” Yamasaki said. “Only at Temple’s bookstore or Amazon have I been able to find used books and it has worked out great.”

Yamasaki said that a student should check out all outlets and compare prices as soon as he or she receives his or her syllabus. Why so soon?

“Because Amazon sometimes has amazingly cheap deals,” she said. “I also find it very annoying that when you rent a book it almost costs the same thing as buying it.”


According to a survey done by BISG’s “Student Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education,” earlier in the year, 11% of most college students decided to rent textbooks rather than purchasing them for full price.


The survey further stated that while 15% of respondents had a tablet device, 30% reported an interest in acquiring an iPad and 46% expressed interest in getting textbooks on their iPad.

As the use of e-books becomes more useful for students, Yamasaki said that she would definitely check the concept out for when she is on the go.


Are e-books gaining a following on your campus? What is your method of choice for acquiring textbooks?

Dominique Johnson Dominique Johnson Dominique is a native of North Philadelphia. He is a graduate from The Community College of Philadelphia and is currently attending Temple University studying Journalism.

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