By Cadi LaCourse, President
Many University of Maine at Farmington students have found that purchasing textbooks online rather than at the campus bookstore can be significantly less expensive. Email interviews completed by a small group of UMF students found that all but one of the students surveyed had found textbooks online at prices much lower than those offered at the bookstore.
“My Geology book was the most expensive, at the bookstore it cost near $140 but I bought it off of Amazon.com for $50,” said Jamie McKay, a sophomore at UMF.
Amazon was the most popular among the students surveyed, as nearly every student had purchased at least one book from the popular website. “The two websites that usually provide the cheapest textbooks are Amazon and Half.com, which are the two websites that I try to stick to,” said McKay.
Shopping online can certainly save students some money but there are drawbacks. One major issue is the time it takes for books to be shipped and received from online retailers. Some students cannot afford to purchase their books until they receive their financial aid refund checks, usually the week before the start of the semester, which forces them to pay the higher prices at the bookstore to ensure that they have their books before the start of the semester.
Despite the higher costs, some students do prefer to purchase their textbooks at the bookstore because it ensures that they will receive the correct books to correspond to their courses. “I have always bought books in the bookstore because I know that I will get the right book and the right edition.” said Samantha Ritson, a sophomore at UMF, “I know people that got books online because it was cheaper but they did not get the right edition.”
Another option to save money on books is textbook rental. Rental services are offered both at the bookstore and through online retailers, such as Amazon. “My Marine Bio book was roughly $150, but I was able to rent it online much cheaper for $40,” said Christine Della Porta.
Some students also sell their textbooks at the end of the semester to try and cut costs. There are mixed feelings on this method, since some books are not eligible for buyback programs. The rate paid for buyback books is often very low and most students did not think that it was worth it to sell their books back to the bookstore or online retailers.
“I have sold books back to the bookstore and for my $100 book I maybe got $20 back, so it’s really not worth even selling them back,” said Ritson.