College Bound: Opinions Needed On Textbook Options

lynninnewmexicoMay 31, 2012

We were in Oklahoma last week getting DD registered and set up for college. There are two new options for their needed textbooks that DS didn't have when he started college nine years ago.

Now they not only have the option to buy their needed textbooks new or used, selling them back for a ridiculously small amount (what a racket!), but these kids can now rent their textbooks or buy them as an E-book for a Kindle, etc.

I have no idea as yet how much it would cost to rent them, do you? The pros to this option that I can see are (1)saving a lot of money on ridiculously expensive text books that she won't want to keep anyway and (2) avoiding the hassle of selling them back to the bookstore afterwards . . . for a small fraction of what they cost her.

Regarding the E-book option, I wouldn't be opposed to buying her one if this was the best choice. Pros: it would take up much less space and weigh a fraction of what a load of heavy textbooks would to carry around to classes. I have no clue how much online textbooks cost, though, or if most (for freshman, at least) are available like that. Cons: how easy is it to read textbooks like that? Can you underline or highlight them?

I would really appreciate hearing your own kid's experiences with any of the above. And your opinions and experiences with E-reader books and/or textbooks, etc.



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I'd choose a book over an ebook. I allowed my kids to sell back the textbooks they'd never look at again, but it was mandatory they kept the one's in their major they'd refer to later.

Highlighting a rented book is a good question. But she could rent a book and use those tiny sticky notes.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 12:23PM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

If I was in school again, I would do a hybrid of both. There are some books that would be perfect for the E-readers, history, literature, etc. Some books I would want actual texts, like math or anything heavy on pictures like art history. Some science books I would probably before to have an actual book. I know that my pastor's wife just graduated with a BSW and she used the e-reader option frequently.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 12:27PM
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Our DS has rented as many as possible -and it has saved us tons of money. I'd recommend it.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 12:29PM
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Tish, my dad kept his Literature books from college (Va. Tech, go Hokies!) and because of that, so did I.

To this day I still look at the literature books, especially his. I feel so close to him when I look at his books because he wrote little notes to himself.

So I vote to buy the literature books! lol

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 12:32PM
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My son buys all his on the WWW: web for 1/4 to 1/2 the price of the school book store. His best deal an advanced Engineering book $200 for $25!! When I ask him why they even sell them at school, WHO would pay those prices,he tells me many kids are spending mom and dad's money, THEY DON'T CARE! I say MOM AND DAD stay out of it. Give your student what you feel is just and step back. Let them discover how to make a nickel stretch. You will be amazed at how cheap they can be when it is THEIR money they are spending!! That said, some majors bank on you collecting a "professional library" every other book will never be looked at again. Your "purchases" should reflect the books FUTURE use.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 1:23PM
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Lynn, I don't have experience with kids and textbooks (my own kids that is), but I work at college. It's almost ridiculous to purchase a textbook anymore - at least a new textbook. The cost is outrageous. And how many will really use them in the future. Some are updated frequently. As Arcy said, so many kids today buy them on-line. You can purchase from Amazon and sell back to Amazon. I'm not sure what kind of price they pay in purchasing them back.

You are right about the pro in the weight of an ereader. That would be great for a student!

I do not know if the ebooks are used here at our school, I've not heard of that, but I think it would be great! I have a nook and you can highlight, etc. You could also set up a note ap. I'm not sure if there is the ability to make notes on something you are reading, as it's not something I've needed to do. I actually do not use my nook much as a reader. The ebooks can be kept on the nook in your "library".

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 1:36PM
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My daughter is pre-med, and buys many of her textbooks because she uses them as reference and does not sell them back. I'm in textbook publishing, so fortunately I can comp some of her books (I work on medical and scientific textbooks). She buys some of her books at (affiliated with eBay); she says she has never had any problems buying from them.

My son is studying film/lit. Many of his course instructors do in-class hand-outs to the students, and some readings are available on-line.

My advice is to tell your daughter to wait until classes start before she buys any textbooks. Professors and instructors often give advice about what students should really use, and what they can do without. There are all kinds of variations and possibilities. My daughter shared her French grammar textbooks with a classmate, and that worked for them.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 1:50PM
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If you opt to purchase text books online don't forget to check our WalMart's online prices. There were many times my daughter was able to get a better price through Wal Mart than many of the other discount sources. Don't forget to check the shipping and handling - that can become expensive.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 2:55PM
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I work at a university as well. Rental is a very good option, with one caveat: if the textbook is used for two courses over the course of a year, you will need to pay the rental each semester, but you only have to buy it once. So be aware that for many science and math classes, it would be cheaper to buy a used book online for the year than rent for two semesters.

Regarding e-books, I think that depends on the subject as other have pointed out, but also on your daughter's preferences. I would not want e-books in anything (I'd be ok w/novels) but then again I'm 50 years old!

Lastly, the advice to wait until school starts probably depends on the size of the school. Maybe at large universities where textbooks are selected by groups of faculty you might have instructors telling you what you can "avoid". But where I teach we pick all our textbooks for every class individually-why would I require something I don't think they need? I expect my students to have their texts from the very first day, and homework is due almost immediately.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 3:09PM
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Thanks so much for all of your wonderful advice and opinions! I'm printing them all out so that I can go over them all with DD & DH.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 5:47PM
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