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Opinion: Buy textbooks online

Cuesta College Bookstore. Photo by Jonathan Apelado

At the start of each semester, getting the required textbooks needed for classes could be one of the most stressful parts of college. 

Some textbooks, mainly for the general education classes, can sell at an overwhelming price to most students. Most would even miss the opportunity to get the required text due to not having enough money to get the book. It could result in dropping out, or even getting a low grade in the class. 

Campus bookstores have now started to do some price matching on their textbooks. Meaning they’ve started to compare the prices of the textbooks on their shelves versus the prices of the same textbook found online. Is it still better to just rent, or should you buy your textbooks online? 

Thanks to the wide variety of smartphones and computers granting easy access to the internet, students are able to look up the specific textbook they need for their classes. Which makes stepping foot into the bookstore the last necessity.

The biology textbook, “Campbell Biology,” is being sold for $195-$260 at the Cuesta College Bookstore. If you want to rent, it ranges from about to $123-$214 for the semester. On the website Chegg, to rent this book the price is $25.99, and to buy the full-text costs from $102-$180. 

“Essentials of Oceanography,” by Alan Trujilo and Harold Thurman, is $206.65 if bought new and $86.80 to rent from the bookstore. If bought online from Chegg, the same textbook is $113.49 if bought new and $34.99 if rented. To buy the eTextbook from Chegg, it is $24.46; from the Cuesta College Bookstore, it is $79.99.

A plus to buying textbooks online versus going to the campus bookstore is that there is no line hassle. Staying home is also an advantage to avoid direct confrontation with other individuals making it more hygienic. There isn’t a need to wait hours in a long line, with your arms getting tired from holding three or four books at once. 

Paying more than a hundred dollars for a textbook for a class that isn’t your major is quite a commitment for a student. Realistically, how often would a student read a textbook after the semester is over for a class that isn’t for their major? Renting and returning the book in this situation clearly has an advantage here.

Getting books online is less of a hassle than going to the campus bookstore. It makes the process quicker, easier, and anyone can browse their textbooks from the comfort of their home.

Sam Moore contributed to this column.