MU Bookstore works to make textbooks affordable

The bookstore made many more textbooks available for rental this year.
Exchange student Pancea Motawi looks for a textbook Friday at the bookstore. This year, the bookstore is working on reducing the price of textbooks.

The MU Bookstore and professors are working together to reduce the cost of textbooks for students.

The bookstore has an ever-expanding array of money-saving options, Student and Auxiliary Services spokeswoman Michelle Froese said.

The most popular option by far is to buy books used, Froese said. MU ranks number one in the nation for the amount of used books sold in the bookstore.

"The cost of textbooks has gone up substantially over the years, outpacing increases in the consumer price index," she said.

A fast-growing option is textbook rental. Froese said 17 percent of students purchasing books at the bookstore choose to rent their textbooks. The bookstore launched its book rental program two years ago, beginning with 50 titles available for rental. That number has skyrocketed since then, and the bookstore now has 639 books available for rental, most of them for general education classes.

"Launching the rental program has been very successful from a student standpoint," Froese said.

Renting is a cheaper option for students, and the cost savings show, she said.

"If students rented all of the books that are available instead of buying them, they would save about $1 million based on the used price," Froese said.

Freshman Annalisse Fontana said she was pleased with the rental process.

"It went pretty easily. It was just like buying the books, and a lot cheaper," she said.

Fontana said the books are in good condition.

"(There are) no rips, drawings or anything in them," Fontana said. "I wasn't expecting them to be this nice. It surprised me."

The MU Bookstore also offers e-books, which are less expensive than hard-copy textbooks, but students have been slow to adopt them.

"Students aren't as interested in e-books because there is no standard platform yet," Froese said.

The bookstore also offers an online price comparison tool, where students can compare a book's new, used and rental prices from the bookstore along with prices from e-commerce sites such as Amazon, Alibris and eBay's

Students also have the option of selling books they have purchased either new or used back to the bookstore. Students can sign up for "buyback alerts" through the bookstore's website, which lets them know when they would receive the most money back for their textbook.

Some professors also have students' textbook costs in mind when assigning them for a course. Biology professor Patricia Friedrichsen made her Biology 1010 course book, which costs $173.30 new, optional for students.

Friedrichsen uses multiple resources for her class aside from the textbook, including online texts and websites.

"Because of the high cost of the text, I wanted to find options for my students," Friedrichsen said.

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