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Now that our sons and daughters are settled at college the reality begins (not ours, which happened for me the second I got into the car and drove away). Their reality means being students again and the real reason they have been sent off to college surfaces. Therefore they will undoubtedly need books.
Books today come in many different forms and likewise can be purchased in a variety of ways – including rentals. Deciding which is the most a) cost-efficient and b) the easiest way for your student to use it are important factors. Textbooks can cost as much as a few hundred dollars each. (Please note that some professors will insist on the newest edition of a textbook simply because it is how they make money; therefore last year’s edition may not be considered sufficient; regardless of the fact that the changes in its material may be minuscule and a used edition may be far cheaper.) Some students may appreciate being able to mark up and highlight a textbook, while others may be satisfied with an online edition. Some professors have packets that come in sealed plastic and can be rather costly as well. Sometimes new books are required, because of an online code that comes with the book.
When buying books your student must consider whether they want an actual textbook or a digital version (which is often available). If they prefer a book, then I suggest buying used or renting whenever possible. Hopefully, one that hasn’t been marked up too much will be available. My daughter often asked her sorority sisters first. Students would much rather sell their books to a friend then back to the bookstore; they make more money back that way. You may want to mention to your students that as they meet people and look for the low-down on classes before registering for each semester; they should take note of who already took the class. Asking someone to save a book for them can guarantee a used book when they need it later.
Students can also join the many Facebook groups to eliminate the middleman (the bookstores) and sell books to each other.
The most obvious place to buy books is the campus bookstore. UCF’s bookstore (Barnes and Noble – which means that a Barnes and Noble gift card for your son/daughter is a great graduation gift, should anyone ask) will actually price match any textbooks found for a better price on bn.com, Amazon or from local competitors. They will not do this for digital books; they will, however, price match on rentals if the terms are the same. Students can order books online and pick them at the bookstore on campus. They can also be returned there at the end of the semester.
Another option for buying, selling or renting books is Chegg.com, ecampus.com, and Bookbyte. There is also a bookstore, Textbook Solutions, right across from campus that also does all of this. Students can use their UCF email to get six months of Amazon Prime Student (free shipping) for free and then for only $50 a year. And yes, Amazon rents books too. There’s also a UCF textbook exchange for students looking to rent/sell/buy textbooks or looking for used textbooks called UCF Textbook Exchange. Another popular option is not buying the textbook at all and finding free PDF versions. This has saved some of our interns hundreds of dollars. It is, as I said above, a matter of weighing the options. I personally think renting is the least expensive way to go.
Now some of you may encourage your student to be proactive and order their textbooks early, but hang on. I have heard too many times that books arrive and then on the first day of class, the professor announces they have changed books, wants the newest edition or that they really don’t need a book at all (the internet has enough information). Be sure they can return any books purchased ahead of time should this happen or wait to order it until they confirm what they need, (but don’t wait too long; when a book doesn’t arrive until halfway through the semester due to backorder; it can be a problem.)
Tune in at the end of the semester for thoughts on what to do with those used books so they don’t just gather dust under the bed.
Let the studying begin!