More options available to help students save on textbooks
As the University System of Maryland faces budget cutbacks;leading to temporary salary reductions and decreases in financial aid, the last thing students need to worry about is shelling out another $500 for fall textbooks alone. True, a rising number of UMBC students are finding ways other than the campus bookstore to purchase textbooks, but for the most part, many of these alternatives are still unknown to students. One such alternative is brand new BookScrooge.com.
The website, which compares book prices between the campus bookstore, Half.com, and Amazon.com, was created exclusively for UMBC students by ;Information Systems and Media and Communications studies major, Michael Hincke. The aim of BookScrooge is to make textbook shopping simpler for UMBC students.
"I wanted to eliminate that middle step [of finding each ISBN number], and [I wanted to include] the school's bookstore in that comparison," said Hincke as he explained his goal for BookScrooge.
BookScrooge includes a scheduler (a free, safe downloadable software) that allows students to plan their schedule, print their book list, and immediately begin comparing prices. Currently, Hincke is working to add more online stores (such as ABEbooks and) to the comparison options. <
While BookScrooge is still in beta mode, and will be for quite some time, Hincke has a clear vision for his final polished product.
"Ideally a student would make a quick account on BookScrooge, mess around with the scheduler and be able to save what they were doing until they come back the next time. When they have their schedule set, they just leave it," explained Hincke. "When textbooks for their classes come out, they would automatically be sent an email letting them know and BookScrooge would pull up the books for the classes they are taking." Hincke is also working on a buyback feature for the site.
For those interested in sites similar to BookScrooge, The Retriever Weekly recommends looking into BigWords.com. BigWords also compares book prices, but from many more stores. Nevertheless unlike BookScrooge, BigWords is not exclusive to UMBC and does not include any campus bookstores in the search.
Big Words compares prices of new and used books and shows the buyer the cheapest combination if all books were purchased from different stores, and if one store in particular has all the student's books for a lower price. Neverthess, it is much harder to come across new books on Big Words. This can be disadvantageous when buying books that include one user only CD-roms.
Despite, price comparison sites and sharp discounts offered by online book sellers, some students still possess mixed feelings with regards to purchasing textbooks online.Sophomore Lois Sarfo-Mensah, majoring in Health Administration, explained, "Books are super expensive, but I think it's a better idea to buy from the campus store. Even though books are cheaper online, some people never receive their shipments, or receive them extremely late in the semester.
Junior pre-nursing major Anita Jankowiak also prefers not to buy books online. Anita uses a combination of the UMBC bookstore and online shopping to obtain the best quality books and this semester alone spent almost 900 dollars on textbooks."[Though] I knocked off about 300 of that from buying books online used," said Jankowiak.
Jankowiak, who prefers buying new books from the campus bookstore explained, "If the textbooks are newer, I prefer to buy them at the bookstore for their horrendous price....However, if they are books that are found significantly cheaper online and in the newest edition, I will buy them from a bargaining website."
Aside from buying one's course materials, textbook rental sites such as Chegg.com provide students with yet another option to save money on textbooks. Renting textbooks may make the most sense for classes taken as graduation requirements, rather than classes pertaining to a student's major. Students may want to keep books taken from these classes for future reference. Students may write in pencil on rented books, as long as the books are otherwise shipped back as they were received. The Retriever suggests that students rent math textbooks, as mathematics course materials are generally more expensive than books of other disciplines.
Electronic books are another money-saving alternative, especially designed for students who dislike carrying books around. Coursesmart.com is the most commonly known supplier of e-books and other digital course materials in the country, and carries nearly every textbook a student might need in digital format. E-books tend to be less expensive than hard copies and they allow students to print only the pages they opt to print.
Nevertheless, many students prefer to stick with traditional methods of obtaining course materials rather than renting and purchasing e-Books. "I like to write, highlight, and mark my books to grasp the information. Plus, a 1/2 lb. book is lighter and more portable than a 10 lb. Laptop," explained Jankowiak
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Copyright: The Retriever Weekly