Online Options Fill Empty Bookshelves
California’s financial situation is one of the top reasons, if not the number one reason, the recall election is taking place this month. The spending policies of this state have left hard-working students and their parents to make up for the deficit through a large increase in tuition.
To make matters worse, book prices remain high along with the recent tuition increase. Many students expect to pay $300 or more for books that they will most likely use for just one quarter. It can be frustrating for many students and leaves them wondering if there are more reasonable ways to buy these very necessary learning tools.
‘The high prices that the UCI Bookstore charges for textbooks create more obstacles for students to get their education. This is why many students choose to buy their books online, or go to other bookstores,’ said Erich Chung, second-year biology major.
As a result, students have tried to find alternate ways to buy books through the Internet, other bookstores or simply trading with other students. The overall cheapest way to shop for textbooks is online, on used-book sites such as Campusi.com. The best possible Internet price can be found through one convenient search. The title, author, or ISBN number is entered and the search engine finds the cheapest online price between 60 different online used book sources, including Half.com, Amazon marketplace, and TextbookX.com. A similar site that searches dozens of online booksellers is allbookstores.com.
For each book listed, the condition, price and reliability of the seller is described, giving the buyer an accurate idea of what to expect.
When choosing the Internet to buy textbooks, it’s best to order the books as soon as possible because it could take the bookseller a month or more to get the book to the buyer. Another option is to pay a little more for faster shipping which isn’t much considering how much one usually saves when shopping online.
A problem with buying books online is finding the latest edition of the required textbook. The easiest way to deal with this is to get the ISBN number, located on the barcode of each book. Otherwise, one is left to guessing when the latest edition of the book was published.
‘The fact that they require new editions makes it hard to get books from other people, like your friends. Also, they put CDs in the books that usually nobody uses, which raises the price,’ said Pravin Shaw, fourth-year biology major and management minor.
While most teachers request the latest edition, there is a lot of money to be saved by purchasing a slightly older edition if you don’t mind the occasional inconvenience. To make sure it won’t be a major problem, ask your professors if it’s necessary to have the latest possible edition. Although older editions are pulled off bookstore shelves, they are much easier to find online.
Another advantage of the online marketplace is selling books at the price you think it’s worth. While most bookstores use the wholesale market value of the textbook to buy it back and sell it close to the original purchase price, online, you can get more of your money back while still offering prices that are cheaper than most bookstores.
Since the individual seller sets their own prices based on the condition of the book, there are less inflated prices when compared to bookstores. Often, no matter the condition of a used book, the bookstore sets them both at one used book price. Therefore, both the buyer and seller are at an advantage when buying books online.
According to second-year psychology and social behavior major Christine Serafica, purchasing books online is superior to purchasing them at the bookstore because the amount you make when re-selling them is more equal to the price you paid.
‘I think its just another way for the school to make more money. First, they charge way too much to begin with, then when it comes to buying books back they’ve decided that they’re no longer going use it so we get virtually nothing back,’ Serafica said.
Another way to buy books online is ZotSwap.com, which lets UCI students sell and buy books from other students. When the right book is found, the site helps you contact the seller to agree on payment and how the book should get to the buyer.
The site is also in the process of adding an area called Housing Finder, which helps students search for housing and roommates, as well as Marketplace, a forum where students can sell and trade personal items.
The advantage of purchasing books this way is there are usually no shipping costs, since most of the customers and sellers are local students from almost every area in the nation.
However, school bookstores must cover costs that the online community doesn’t deal with