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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Buy textbooks without breaking the bank

Recent technological developments help students find textbook bargains online and in stores

Enter any classroom on Otterbein’s campus, and you will be sure to hear discussions about textbooks. Textbooks are often considered to be a major expense for college students, but due to recent technological developments, one can cut costs and still get the books needed for class.

In addition to online stores such as Amazon, other sites are now making digital textbooks available, as well as textbook rentals the Otterbein bookstore offers.

Carl Hill, manager of Otterbein’s bookstore, said that despite the growing popularity of sites such as Amazon, the bookstore still has a place on Otterbein’s campus.

“Being that we have options, we feel that we are very competitive with others out there,” Hill said. “We do our best to have as many options as we can … We have text rental, and we have digital options.”

He also said the store has a new “order management system,” which means that if a used textbook isn’t physically available in the store, it can be sourced from another of the store’s locations or warehouses.

“Ideally, if it’s not in store, we can receive it within 48 hours time.”

The digital age is contributing to changes in the industry, and the bookstore is using two online sites called Inkling and CafeScribe to provide online textbooks that can be downloaded to iPods and Kindles, Hill said.

The store recently learned of a third option called Copia for students to download novels and other required readings they might need.

Another common on-campus source for books is the Courtright Memorial Library. Lois Szudy, the library director, suggests that students get novels and plays through a source called OhioLINK. OhioLINK is an online site where people can request books from other Ohio libraries to be delivered to Court-right Memorial Library.

“I’ve seen more people (use OhioLINK) to get that kind of book because textbook prices are so high,” Szudy said. “We’ve had OhioLINK since 1998, and I would say that the number of people using it … has gone up every year.”

While OhioLINK is an affordable option to access textbooks, Szudy said it is not recommended for books that will be needed for extended periods of time or that will be used for the whole year. This is because someone else might need the book and reserve it, even if someone else still needs to access it.

The library also carries all the textbooks students need for their math, language, science and business classes, but some can be checked out for two hours only if the textbooks remain in the library.

Szudy said that if students need a copy of the textbook and it cannot be found anywhere else, they should ask a faculty member if they have an extra copy to borrow.

Options to purchase textbooks online are also available. According to data published by the National Association of College Stores, the average price of new textbooks is $65, while used textbooks average at $51. Online sales make up 12.4 percent of total store sales and are showing an increase of about 1 percent each year.

Amazon advertised that students can save between 30 and 90 percent on new books and up to 60 percent on e-books. They also offer to buy back books. Additionally, Barnes & Noble advertises that you can save up to 90 percent on textbooks.

Szudy said that if students decide to purchase their books online, they need to be careful about which edition of the textbook they purchase. She said that students should look up their textbooks by their International Standard Book Number to ensure they get the right edition.

Sometimes students order books online with the same title but a different edition, with different case studies and page numbers. By looking at the book’s ISBN, a student will be able to receive the proper book.

Students have different preferences when it comes to sources for textbooks, but Amazon and the bookstore are among the most popular sources.

Freshman English and political science major Jim Treyens bought his books from Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

“They (both) have discounted prices and you can buy used, and also because they ship well.”

Ashley Mann, a sophomore theater major, said, “I normally just get (textbooks) from the bookstore. It’s right on campus, and it’s really convenient.”

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