Bookstores hardly cheapest option for texts

By Kathleen Foody

I’m one of the lucky college students who doesn’t have to pay for their own education – part of the reason I can afford to work at The Daily Illini – because my parents have saved and sacrificed my entire life to spare me the burdens of college tuition and student loans.

But last year, I started feeling like I was taking advantage of them and offered to start pitching in money wherever they wanted me to.

Yes, I know how weird that sounds, but I’m the oldest of four. Guilt just kind of happens when that’s your lot in life. We compromised and decided I would pay for my books every semester. Sounds like I got off easy, right?

I thought so too until I shelled out more than $500 for books my first semester of sophomore year and more than $750 my second semester. After selling my books back to the campus stores at the end of each semester, I had used up about $800.

Those numbers definitely aren’t the same for everyone. You can find people who have paid a lot more than me or a lot less by just walking across the Quad, depending on their major, course load and the professors they took classes with.

But there are ways to decrease the strain on your book budget, without cross-checking the list of professors and classes with the book stores’ prices.

Shopping for and selling your old books online is a great option to save some money. Just be sure to order them far enough ahead of time and from a well-rated seller so that you’re not knocking on every door in your residence hall trying to find that Meteorology textbook the night before your first exam.

Other than national options, the Illini Book Exchange is a great service to sell and buy books. It’s a Web site run by University students who were just as fed up with textbook prices as the rest of us.

Splitting the price of books with friends who are taking the same classes as you can help too. Last semester, I split the cost of a $120 book with a friend. It may not seem like much of a bargain, but $60 goes a long way on a college campus.

Be careful when you’re choosing whom to share with though; you don’t want to be fighting for the book at 3 a.m. because you both prefer to cram for tests.