Textbook bargains can hurt less if students are willing to do the research

Michael Promes


With the start of a new school year comes the beginning of new classes, new friends and new expenses. With tuition paid, dorm rooms and apartments decorated and ready for living and meal plans set for spending, we are ready to take on the challenges of our new classes, right? Unfortunately, no. For most students, the most dreaded expense of the school year is buying textbooks. I went to scout prices for my books this year at the University Bookstore, in hopes of spending a little bit less on books than I did last year; this was not the case. I noticed the enormous line of students winding through the bookstore and, pairing that with the prices of my books, it made me wonder how much money the store actually makes on all of this text.

What students are actually paying for when they buy their books is not the paper, not the ink, but the knowledge that books contain; the ideas, thoughts and equations that masters of their field have written down and published. This knowledge is extremely important and helps students learn in their respective field of study, but if only half of the content in the book is covered in class, is it actually worth $300? The SDSU Bookstore is fantastic in that it stocks the exact books that instructors use for their classes. Never will a student ask for a book for his or her class that the bookstore does not stock. Perhaps convenience is cause for high prices. But where can students who want to save some money go to get their books for less?

I was recently talking to a guy in one of my research classes about this particular topic. He told me that he bought his book for only four dollars instead of the $150  that I was about to spend on mine. He simply ordered his on the internet.  Even though he had to wait for the book to actually ship to his residence, he saved 96 percent on his book compared to the one at the bookstore. Books do not have to drain your bank account. The SDSU Bookstore is a great place to get your books; it is still where I get most of mine. However, for those who have a tight budget or for those bargain hunters out there, with a little bit of searching and some patience, students can spend significantly less money on their required textbooks by getting them through used bookstores and online sites like amazon or ebay.

Michael is currently a sophomore majoring in Psychology. He can be emailed at [email protected]