By MANDI STEFFEY
College can be a steep expense. Tuition, room and board and student fees are just the start of most any college student’s expenses when they’re on the quest for acquiring a higher education. It doesn’t stop there, though.
In most high schools, students have to pay a once-yearly book fee. Once college hits, though, purchasing every book outright is almost unavoidable. A book bill for one semester can soar well above $500.
At IU South Bend and many other colleges, students flock to the bookstore a few days before classes to grab glossy new textbooks off the shelves. These are usually brand new books that have never been opened. One question many students begin to ask is: Do I really need a brand new book?
The answer to this question is almost always no. Most books that can be bought brand new also have a used version, either at a bookstore or online. Betterworldbooks.com, one of the most popular online used book sellers, claims that their website can save some students up to 95 percent by buying used books instead of new books. And in many cases, these used books are in decent shape. The corners might be worn and there could be some highlighting from a previous owner, but saving up to 95 percent would make many look past those minor flaws.
Some college bookstores have a good selection of used textbooks, but other options are usually more lucrative. Right by IUSB on Mishawaka Avenue, there’s a small locally-owned bookstore called Book Trader where students can sell and buy used books. In many cases, students can snag some deals and make some extra cash at the end of a semester.
A store like Book Trader might not be on campus, but employees at the establishment claim that an off-campus bookstore allows students more options when it comes to buying and selling books.
“The thing is that a lot of the books that aren’t able to be bought back by the IUSB and Ivy Tech bookstores can be bought back by our bookstore,” said Matt Kowalski, a Book Trader employee. “That says something because if you’re able to sell books to our bookstore that you can’t sell at other bookstores, you’re usually going to get a better rate than trying to sell it elsewhere.”
“I would recommend that any college student come and check out a store like ours,” said Kowalski. “It helps stimulate the local economy.”
The bookstore also has a website where they can sell books easily, so Kowalski says the store will almost always buy a book if it is current and in decent condition.
There are plenty of options out there for students that are strapped for cash. If buying books doesn’t appeal to a student, rental options are becoming increasingly popular. This is an even cheaper option that’s worth looking into.
Saving money in college is rarely a bad idea. Picking and choosing when buying and selling is a great way to save some much-needed cash for students. However, whether students rent books, buy new or used—they can save as much money as they please. But there’s no way to escape eating that Ramen.