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To buy or not to buy; the ongoing battle with textbook prices

Staff Writer

Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02

 

After a week back on campus, UNH students have been discussing subjects ranging from the parties they attended over break to the amount of snow on the ground to, of course, the ever-increasing price of textbooks.  The price of textbooks has always been a source of frustration for students, and more and more are now turning to cheaper alternatives such as online shopping, renting and electronic textbooks.

Sarah Hutz, manager of the UNH Bookstore, said the store’s amount of orders is up from last semester, especially when it comes to rentals. At the UNH Bookstore, students have many options including buying, renting and downloading electronic versions of books.

“We have seen an increase in the amount of students coming to our store,” Hutz said. 

Employees at the Durham Book Exchange said quite the opposite. 

“The Internet is our biggest competitor,” Manager Lorraine Mechem said. She went on to say that this competition has caused a decrease in the amount of students using the store. At the Durham Book Exchange and the UNH Bookstore, students are able to buy their books and sell them back at the end of the semester if they choose.

UNH students have taken all of their options into consideration when searching for the best deal, and they have turned to a wide variety of places. 

I rented before, and I like it, but I prefer to buy them from other people so that if I want to keep it, I can, and if not, I can sell it back, and wouldn’t have spent as much as you normally would in a store,” student Basmah El-Faramawi said.

Many other students said that they prefer to buy from other students and that they tend to do this through Facebook. Textbook Exchange, which is an open group within UNH and currently has 481 members, allows students to post about books they are looking to buy or sell. Students communicate with one another and work out deals that benefit each person involved in the transaction. 

Many students also use the Internet to buy their books. Student Nat Duranceau said she generally uses Amazon.com. 

“If I can’t find the right edition there, I’ll rent from the bookstore,” Duranceau said. “Amazon and sites like it are nice, because you can sell the books back no matter what edition they are.”

Another student, Rebecca Mongiardo, said she likes to use gift cards for Barnes and Noble toward her books.

“I normally use the Durham Book Exchange, but all of my books this semester were outrageously overpriced,” Zoe Long said. “I ordered online through Amazon and saved $20 to $50 on each.”

Other students said they do research and compare prices before buying.

“I price all of my books using the bookstore, the book exchange, and on Amazon and pick and choose between them on which is cheapest,” Maggie Hendrickson said. She went on to say that if the prices are similar, she will buy from one of the stores in case an online store has slow shipping. Many students who buy from a store seemed to use this as a main reason for not ordering online.

Delaney McDonough said that although she researches prices on sites such as Amazon.com and Chegg.com and compares them to the bookstore, this can be very time-consuming and exhausting. 

“It’s easier to go to the book exchange and buy an overpriced copy on the same day than to buy a cheap used book from someone on Amazon and wondering whether or not it will arrive on time,” she said.

With all the options out there, buying textbooks can seem very daunting. Everyone wants to pay the lowest price and to sell back to receive the most money possible. So, whether you buy online or in-store, or go for the electronic version, all students should know that they are not alone in this often frustrating process.

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