Bookstore expenses prove costly for students

Students spend an average of $500 on textbooks, study guides and workbooks each semester, according to figures for 2010 from the U.S.Department of Education.

Those looking to keep some money in their pockets are utilizing alternative options for purchasing textbooks in a time when an increasing amount of students are applying for loans and scholarships.

Traditionally, students purchased from the school bookstore, but now as online shopping expands, the number of students who turn to the Internet—using sites like Amazon.com and Half.com—for books is growing.

The bookstore on campus, which is run by the Follett company, has experienced a decrease in traffic in recent years but still is the primary location for some students to buy textbooks, according to Brad Zurcher, a Follett employee.

Freshmen are more likely to pick up their books from the campus bookstore than any other group of students, said Zurcher.

Zurcher said it is because the bookstore offers convenience, speed and simplicity.

The lower prices on larger textbooks are a benefit of using other sites, but sometimes, books aren’t available through websites.

Jaileen Ramos, a freshman psychology and pre-med major, was required to purchase 19 books for her classes.  She chose to search for her books on Amazon.com before going to the bookstore.

“I didn’t have to start looking too early to find my books,” Ramos said.  “I did have to buy three of them from the Butler bookstore because I couldn’t find them anywhere else.”

Ramos said she prefers to shop around.

“We can get the same book that is made by the same people but is used somewhere cheaper online,” Ramos said.

Zurcher said the price of books is a common question at the bookstore checkout line.

“Butler has very little say on pricing because it’s all based on what we get from the publisher,” Zurcher said.

To help keep costs down, Butler is implementing systems such as Rent-A-Text and CafeScribe to lessen costs and reduce stress on students.

The Rent-A-Text system allows students to pay a lower price—typically about half the price—to rent the textbook for a semester. Students scan their student IDs and swipe a debit card to ensure the book is returned.

Sophomore John Traylor, who has used Rent-A-Text, said the system is good for books students don’t want to keep after the class ends.

CafeScribe is another system that is fairly new for students. Students purchase an online copy of the textbook through the bookstore. With a passcode and a download through CafeScribe’s website, the student is able to access the book on personal computers.

Students are able to highlight and take notes in books online or books that are rented without incurring any additional fees.

-Additional reporting by Jill McCarter

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