It’s the new year. Seattle University’s campus, previously consumed by a winter silence, gains a pulse as students return to tread on its turf. The air is thick with excitement. Friends reunite, bicyclists weave through the lower mall, and dorms buzz with activity. Amidst the flurry of a new quarter, one may forget about one of the most vital, and expensive, aspects of the new quarter: buying textbooks.
Thanks to the quarter system, Seattle U students buy and sell textbooks three times a year instead of just twice.
With the climbing prices of textbooks, students have sought cheaper alternatives. Common choices are Amazon, Slug Book, Half.com by eBay, AbeBooks, and BookRenter.
The high cost of textbooks is one of many challenges for college students. Luckily, sites such as Amazon and Chegg have offered some relief for students on a budget.
According to journalist Frederic Lardinois, AbeBooks was recently bought by Amazon. AbeBooks will benefit from Amazon’s name recognition while Amazon will reap the benefits of the site’s popularity.
Even with the advantage of better prices online, however, students are still paying anywhere from $100 to $300 each quarter for textbooks.
Needless to say, most students balk at the cost. Many struggle with the financial burden of buying textbooks while attending private school and living in an expensive neighborhood.
Not only is finding low-cost textbooks laborious, but Seattle U students get few breaks from the school’s bookstore.
“It’s true, a lot of books are more expensive than they probably should be, but we have to deal with what the publishers decide, so the price isn’t ours to determine,” said Seattle U Bookstore Operations Supervisor Matt Walsh. “I would imagine it’s frustrating for students when they’re forced to purchase updated editions of textbooks, even when the ones they might have are really similar in content. That’s at least another $100.”
Even so, Walsh reports that at least half of the student body buys and sells via the Seattle U bookstore, implying that convenience may override cost.
At least that is the case for some. But senior Bryan Littlefield claims to only buy from the bookstore when “the book is like, $3.”
In hopes of curbing some textbook costs, professor often turn to online resources such as Canvas, or a combined course pack.
“Course readers were just a really nice thing to have for students, because all the material is in one localized spot, and it also eliminates the need for textbooks,” said Seattle U alumnus Corbin Richardson.
Junior Megan Rogers expressed frustration toward classes that call for both textbooks and a course reader.
“We have no choice but to deal with the system as our wallets get lighter,” Rogers said. “It’s also really bothersome when we’re asked to buy a textbook, and only touch it once during the quarter.” However, a few professors have finally caught wind of the issue, and are now striving to limit course material to either the readers or the books, and not both.
“If I had it my way, I’d want students using 3 to 4 textbooks in my classes,” comments Lyall Bush, a film studies professor. “But out of sensitivity to rising prices, a lot of us really prefer to keep the number low. It seems that the teaching system is changing in that regard.”