Students consider book options

Tim Eggerding

Tim Eggerding

By Courtney Klemm

Natalie Lewis, sophomore in LAS, used to buy her textbooks at the local bookstores until she received a pop-up on her computer about buying textbooks online.

“It let you put in the ISBN (International Standard Book Number), would tell the prices of textbooks (online), and Amazon was the cheapest on almost all,” she said.

Lewis said she decided to order her textbooks at a week before classes began and spent around $70 on five books, one of which she said was $90 at the bookstore in Champaign. Lewis said she found online buying very beneficial.

“It’s cheap and more convenient than going to the bookstores because they send them to you,” she said.

Lewis said she told her friend about this option, and he decided to try it as well.

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“He has 18 hours and spent $50 on all of his books,” Lewis said. “If he had gone to the bookstore, he would have spent over $200.”

Buying books online is becoming more popular with students as online textbook resources and Web sites increase. Some well-known Web sites include, eBay and is a Web site dedicated to helping students at schools across the Midwest find reasonably priced textbooks. It partners with,, BiggerBooks, Bookbyte, Powell’s, eCampus and TextbookX. will show students the textbooks they need after they enter their courses and will give prices from the different online bookstores for students to compare.

Jeremy Johnson, textbook coordinator at Follett Energy Squared Bookstore, 627 S. Wright St., said he thinks students still prefer buying their books at the store, even with growing online options.

“You know what you’re getting and know for sure it’s the right (book),” Johnson said. “Online, you could get the wrong edition or even the wrong book. A lot of people prefer to get their books immediately instead of having to wait or search for them.”

Amanda Bichsel, senior in business, said she usually buys her books at TIS College Bookstore, 707 S. Sixth St., or Illini Union Bookstore, 809 S. Wright St. She said she spent $483 on her textbooks for the semester at TIS but would not consider buying them online regardless of the high prices.

“At the bookstore, it’s easier to make sure you get the right books,” Bichsel said. “A lot of the professors will make compilations of articles for just their classes.”

Bichsel said she thought the prices at bookstores were very expensive and unreasonable, especially because students do not make anywhere near what they paid when selling them back. However, she said she looked into online buying but did not think it was very convenient.

Johnson said he does not think online buying significantly affects business at local bookstores.

“There’s a number that buy online but not a huge difference,” Johnson said. “(Online) sales will probably increase to a point but won’t take over.”

Lewis said she thinks more students would buy their textbooks online if they were more aware of the option.

“I never heard you could buy books online before this year and didn’t even realize you can get books almost half price,” Lewis said. “I think once people start realizing that, they’ll use it more.”