Break up with the bookstore

Hallie Gardner

As a senior, I’m at that point where if I am not really going to use the textbook for a class, I don’t even consider buying it. I figure I can always just search for online text, or hope a friend has a copy. With this said, I’m not usually a cheapskate, but textbook prices are just plain ridiculous. I was checking my student email yesterday and I got a message that read, “See how much your books are worth!” My skepticism was met by sheer sadness (I was not surprised, however) when I realized the nearly $200 I had paid at the beginning of the semester only amounted up to $46. Ugh.

I’m convinced university bookstores are a scam. It’s the same every year– I leave with empty pockets and a stack of books I hardly use. According to, the cost of textbooks has risen nearly 812% in the last 30 years. That’s obscene! I cringe at the thought of what my future kids will be paying for their own books. This increase is higher than healthcare costs, housing prices, and your actual college tuition.


Photo credit: Meneya at

Trust me, I’ve heard the complaints in the long line at the bookstore (many of which are coming from me). Students are fed up with having to sacrifice gas or grocery money for textbooks. In addition, I simply refuse to believe that textbooks are part of my “educational costs.” I pay enough for tuition as is and I would prefer to spend that couple hundred dollars each semester elsewhere. Here are a few ways to outsmart the bookstore:

-Check your library. This sounds like an overly obvious suggestion, but you would be surprised how many people don’t do this. Plus, if you have a tablet or eReader, some of the material may be available in that format.

-Cloud books. Several recent startup organizations are adding university material to clouds and making them accessible to all students. Take for example. Their slogan “Universal Access to Quality Education is a Right” says it all. They offer material in more than 20 different subjects that can be accessed on any platform or device.

-YouTube. Every once in a while, YouTube will have audio versions of a book. What’s better than plugging your earphones in and talking a nice walk while catching up on your studies?

-Free online textbooks. Places like Bookbon have  a wide variety of materials for free!

-PDF textbooks. Search the internet and see what’s out there. Occasionally, material you are looking for has been uploaded in a PDF form.

-The good ol’ textbook swap. Social media sites like Facebook and Craigslist are a great way to find out if someone has a book you’re looking for. These are usually a much lower cost, or free! Plus, if you find someone that is looking for what you have and vice versa, it’s a match made in heaven.

Make use of these tools and quit spending unnecessary amounts of money. Just think, you’ll finally be able to say, “Bookstore, it just isn’t working out for us anymore.”

Hallie Gardner can be reached at and on her twitter page @gardner_hallie.