Study shows 7 in 10 students have forgone buying books
Some students say they have shared books or resorted to other alternatives.
Aug. 30, 2011
With college textbook costs totaling upwards of $500 per semester for some, many students have resorted to saying, "Enough is enough." Some students have settled for other money-saving and practical ways to still take certain courses without actually owning the required text.
In a survey done by the United States Public Interest Research Group of students across 13 college campuses, seven in 10 said they have previously decided against purchasing a textbook because of its cost. MU students are no exception.
Sophomore Tom Chen, who purchased all the required books for his classes last year, said he realized he was spending a lot more money than necessary to still do well in his classes.
Since Chen’s friend from his residence hall is enrolled in the same genetics class, he figured he could just borrow his book when he needs it.
“It’s a smart business decision,” Chen said. “I’m not going to spend more if I don’t have to.”
Chen is also considering returning his chemistry book since his roommate has the same one.
“Why would you have two of the same books?” he said about the $114 book.
Freshman Denntreyl Wright also decided not to purchase two books, a combined $160 savings. He said he does not think it will affect his performance in the class since he can borrow the books from friends in the same course.
“Neither of these classes have used the book and just about everything is gone over in lecture,” he said.
The bookstore’s return policy lasts through Sept. 6, giving them extra time to weigh the potential savings they could make over the academic benefits of having their own copy of a textbook.
“At the very least I intend to rent the books I need,” Wright said.
For Wright, purchasing books at the store wasn’t a risk he was willing to take. Although the University Bookstore allows students to sell some of their books back at the end of the semester, they usually are not fully refunded.
“I didn’t buy them because I didn’t want there to be an issue when I took them back and couldn’t get any money for them,” he said.
Of all students interviewed in the PIRG study, 79 percent said they would expect to do at least somewhat worse in a class for which they did not have the required textbook.
Freshman Lindsey Dinkel, who downloaded a book through Google Books for free instead of buying a hard copy, agrees that her understanding of the text will be more difficult.
“It’s a bummer because I can’t highlight in it,” she said. “I couldn’t focus when I read it.”
Although not having a hard copy of the book makes it harder for her to make notes on the text with sticky notes and annotating, she said saving money is more important to her.
“Your brain starts to shut off and doesn’t process the words," she said. "But I still won’t buy the book, just because it’s expensive."