Textbook prices send students online to shop for books

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Photo Credit/Alicia Flores
Photo Credit/Alicia Flores
Photo Credit/Alicia Flores
Photo Credit/Alicia Flores

Staff Writer

Long lines during the first week of classes may indicate many students continue to buy textbooks from the campus bookstore, but as students continue their education, they look for better deals online due to the high costs.

“I started renting from Amazon because it’s cheaper,” sophomore Joel Rangel said. “I used to buy from the bookstore when I had a better refund, but this semester I did not receive much so I had no choice but to buy elsewhere.”

Rangel is not alone. Another sophomore, Jessica Diaz, rents from various online sites to get the best price, which seems to be a growing trend at IU South Bend.

“It is just too expensive to buy from the bookstore,” she said.

Since 2007, Barnes & Noble has operated all IU bookstores. Barnes & Noble College operates 743 campus bookstores nationwide, according to the Barnes & Noble College website.

A fall 2015 student study conducted as part of a class project at IU South Bend found it is often cheaper to buy or rent from online sites —specifically Chegg and Amazon — when it compared Barnes & Noble’s prices to those of the two popular online stores.

“We had to pick an issue on campus and write about,” said Brant Dotson, who performed the study along with four other students. “We wanted to look at prices of books and how it changed over time, but then it turned into comparing prices against the bookstore. Prices of books are an issue that every student can relate to.”

The students compared 41 books both new and used including the price to rent, Dotson said. They only compared books available from all three sources.

Some books were cheaper from the bookstore, but the majority—over half the books—were cheaper online from sites such as Chegg or Amazon, Dotson said.

“Textbook prices have risen over three times the rate of inflation from January 1977 to June 2015, a 1,041 percent increase,” according to NBC’s review of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data.

“My first year of college I bought from the bookstore. I think a lot of freshman do because you have no idea what you are doing,” Dotson said. “I eventually bought from Amazon and Chegg until I resorted to renting because books are hard to resell for a good price.”

Barnes & Noble did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.

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