Making ends meet: Textbook Edition

Scott Redmond, Staff Writer

The winter holidays have passed, along with the decision making on what gifts to give, where to vacation and what family to see, and as another semester begins for college students, another decision must be made: how to get textbooks for class.

According to a report released by the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress, textbook prices have been rising 6 percent every year.

With the cost rising every year, finding solutions outside of actually purchasing a book that may or may not be used after a class has become a priority for some.

While you can stick with the general choice of going to the campus bookstore and purchasing the book, new or used, surprisingly enough, there are other options that present themselves through the campus itself.

Renting books is a new big business with the National Association of College Stores estimating that students saved more than $450 million in textbook costs in 2012 by renting instead of purchasing.

Many of the books offered through the bookstore for classes come with a version of the book that can be rented, as a student only has to present a credit/debit card to put down on record to be charged should they not return the book at the end of the semester.

Renting from the campus is not the only choice of course, as sites like Amazon, Chegg, ebay, Barnes & Noble and various others offer books to rent or to purchase for prices similar to or cheaper than the book store.

If money is a big concern, as it is for many, there are options that come without the price tag.

Most professors, when choosing the book for their class, will put a copy of the book, whether it’s the current edition or sometimes a previous edition that is very similar to the new one, on reserve at the library.

This means that you can use your trusty student ID card to go into the library and check the book out for a two-hour period, where you can read and take notes from the book as long as you stay in the library. It’s a short period of time and ties you to a particular room on campus, but it is a helpful option in a pinch.

While staying in the library for hours may not be an appealing choice for many, with a simple search through library catalogs it is a choice that can be avoided. There is the chance that the book you are looking for might very well be in the general library stacks of one of the Los Rios libraries.

Not all books that professors choose are your standard textbooks. Some can be novels or books that were written for the general population that just happen to fit into something that is to be covered within the class.

This means that if you search and can find the books in the library catalog, then they are yours to check out for a three-week period, after which you can check it out again unless someone else has put down a reserve hold on it. A downside to be sure.

Have any extra change sitting around or clanging together in your pocket and no vending machines nearby to use the assorted coins in? Good news, at ten cents a page you can make photocopies of the chapters you need to read if checking out the book isn’t an option, and the prospect of only being able to sit and read the reserve copy in the library doesn’t seem that appealing.

This gives you the chapter and allows you to compactly take it wherever you would like for studying convenience.

When it comes to the battle of textbooks versus the pocketbook, a little time and creative thought can go a long way to satisfying not only your education but in soothing your wallet.