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Published:February 4th, 2007 15:24 EST
Ohio State Students Find Alternative Ways To Save Money on Textbooks

Ohio State Students Find Alternative Ways To Save Money on Textbooks

By Ashley Mathews

Like most college students, Jessica Schmitt rushed to the bookstore to purchase her textbooks before the first day of classes.  When she arrived at the campus bookstore, she opened her tote bag to take out her class schedule. She glanced over all three courses on her class schedule briefly.  As soon as Jessica looks up from her schedule she realizes that she is surrounded by clothing, schools supplies and no textbooks. Jessica slowly begins walking down the first aisle in front of with her class book list in her right hand. Her eyes continue to move in every direction as she slowly walks down the aisle. At the end of the long aisle Jessica looks up and is blinded by a big bright yellow sign with the word “textbooks” written across it. Jessica read each subject heading as she strolls through the textbook section.  She finds her books according to the way they are listed on her schedule Biology, Economics, and French. All of the textbooks she chooses are in very good condition.  She carries the heavy books in front of her with both hands and she proceeds to the check out line. The cashier scans each of the books while Jessica digs through her tote bag for her wallet. When she finds her wallet, she looks up at the screen to see the total cost of the books. Her eyes grow large as she stares at the $400 dollar total on the screen.  

     There are many alternative ways for students to save money on buying college textbooks. Jessica is one of many students who found some alternate ways to save money on textbooks. Schmitt said that it wasn’t the university efforts that helped her find her way to the library to use free books, it was another student.  Instead of going to campus area bookstores, students are taking matters into their own hands by getting books from libraries, online bookseller, or sharing and trading with friends.


For students who decide to search for other options when purchasing textbooks, the first place they should check is at their universities libraries. The Undergraduate Student Government and University library at Ohio State collaborated to develop a way to ease some the pain of buying expensive books. Students have been given access to use General Education Curriculum (GEC) books inside the library for free. Dave Knapp, a member of Undergraduate Student Government at Ohio State said, “If our results prove that the program is effective and that the students do desire this program, then we shall expand it for use in other classes, perhaps even classes outside of GEC curriculum.” Not only are the books free but, they can be used around the clock at the university’s Science and Engineering Library.   Overall 48 books used in GEC courses we made available for student to use at the library.  Knapp said, “There has been a lot of great feedback regarding the program, particularly from students who only use their books a couple of times a quarter and would find it difficult to justify the purchase of a $120 book otherwise.” According, to the online bookseller the average cost of a textbook is $102.44. Schmitt said,” I think students should be informed by the university they attend of the alternative ways to say money on books.”

One of the problems with the students having access to free books is the potentially high demand for the textbooks that would make them unavailable for some people.  Dong Li, a graduate student and teaching assistant at Ohio State said, “Sometimes books I need are unavailable in our university library. They are either checked out by someone else or are not owned by our library.”

Sometimes, students will have to use other sources.  In that case, a secondary option for students would be to obtain the books from libraries in the surrounding areas. Ohio Link is a library information and networking syndicate of Ohio’s colleges, universities and state library allows students to obtain books that aren’t available at their university from other colleges or universities.  Dong Li said, “I had a library orientation after I came to OSU and that’s how I found out about Ohio link. I use it frequently when books aren’t available at the university library.”

Most of the students don’t think buying from the bookstore is better than using free books from the library they each has downfalls. Li, said, “Bookstores are good enough but, price-wise they are not. Library reserves are not very convenient, but they are good alternatives.” 

As a teaching assistant, Li tries to keep in mind the cost and value of the textbooks she chooses for her classes. Li said, “Alternative methods are good for me and other poor students to save money. If the content is the same, there is no reason to buy expensive books.”  A study conducted in the state of California found that the average college student spends $898 per year on books, and the Federal General Accounting office stated that college textbooks prices have risen 6 percent each year since 1987 which is twice the inflation rate. Knapp said, “I foresee the cost of textbooks going down if more competitive measures are placed in the textbook market, such as online book sellers, internet trading companies, and online bookstores are a few measures.”     

Another way students can save money on textbooks is by purchasing them from online booksellers. Many different sites are helpful in finding books at the lowest prices, such as,, and Barnes and Nobles. Another one of the many booksellers is, which is unique because it’s all about college student helping each other save money.  This online market is also open to faculty members and administrators. The people who become members of Stuzo.Com exchange goods, while setting their own prices.  Stuzo follows an honor system and believes that users will respect their services.

Students who decide that they would like to be apart of the community can get involved by following a couple of easy steps. Whether you are registering at a four year college, community college or a two year technical school just go to the homepage and enter your email. Then create a password and check off on the terms and service agreement.  Stuzo is not the bookseller on this site; all items posted for sell are property of Stuzo members-- that’s were the slogan "student helping students" comes from.

Similar to the idea of student helping students is trading, which is a third alternative for saving money on textbooks.  Two students that may have taken the same courses, but at different times during the school year, are candidates for trading.  Once you find someone to exchange books with, it is necessary to share contact information and to discuss the most convenient way to trade with each other.  

This discussion may include determining a place to meet, finding out what books are available to trade, and if it’s necessary to get someone else involved. Stacey Kidd, an undergraduate student at The Ohio State University, said, “Trading books with friends is an awesome way to save money.  It is very easy to network with friends with majors similar to yours.” 

Another unique networking source for trading books is an internet site called Buy Textbooks this site allow student to share information with other student about where to buy books at a reasonable price. Also, the student can share any of their positive or negative experiences about purchasing textbooks. Such as where not to buy books, which seller matches other booksellers price, and how to find out if you really need a specific textbook. Li said, “I always consider the cost of the textbooks before selecting course material.”