Castleton State College has seen several changes over the past year. Most of those projects that were under construction when students left campus in the spring were up and running upon students’ return this fall.
The campus center, the hub of all campus activity, has been one of the most noticeable changes and within it, one of this fall’s most popular places: the book store. Though the store has almost doubled in size from it’s original home, it has not been large enough to hold all of the students waiting for books the first week of classes. Students have waited in line up to 45 minutes this year to spend a small fortune on text books for this semester’s classes.
“I waited about 10 minutes for my voucher, which wasn’t bad,” said sophomore, Amanda Schlott. “But I waited at least 20 minutes to actually pay for my books. I would have thought with all the renovations that it would have gone faster.”
Schlott, a business major at Castleton, dropped $287 on books for two classes this year- including a $200 accounting book. It’s over $150 less than what Schlott spent last semester but the savings seems like pocket change.
“I’m sharing a book for one class,” Schlott said. “Because they’re so expensive, I’m finding other ways.”
And with tough economic times upon us, and students’ shallow pockets, students like Schlott are searching for any and all ways to save a few bucks on outrageous text book costs. Though the CSC book store may seem like the fastest and most convenient way to purchase books for the semester, there are alternative ways to save some cash.
The most popular alternative method to the book-buying madness is scouring internet sites. Several websites allow for students to compare book prices to the publisher’s price- a.k.a., the prices students pay in the book store.
These sites, including textbooks.com, dealoz.com, amazon.com, campusbooks.com, half.com (an eBay owned site), and even the infamous CraigsList, allow students to purchase online and have books shipped to their college or university within a week or two. No lines, no wait, and a little extra change in your pocket.
“To some the convenience factor weighs them to buying books at school,” said Castleton junior, Ryan Baldinelli. “But buying books online is much cheaper.”
All of these sites give the option of both new and used books and are advertised as up to 95 percent off the publisher’s price. And the options don’t end at text books. These sites also sell e-books, articles, and books for casual reading (for all your spare time on the weekends.).
But if buying books and keeping them around on your shelves for the next 20 years gathering dust isn’t your thing, there is another way to get your text books. Chegg.com is a book rental site that allows college students to choose from renting their texts books a semester (125 days), a quarter (85 days), or a summer rental (60 days) and offers a 15 to 30 days extension period. The site, that is headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif., claims to save students 65 to 85 percent on text books. The company allows a 30 day refund period for any returns made in that time.
“I am so excited that technology now allows students to rent books!” Dannette Ford, a non-traditional student at University of St. Francis- Ft. Wayne, wrote on Chegg’s website. “As a working student, money is tight and this will really help me financially.”
Not only is Chegg putting an alternative spin on purchasing text books, but also adding an alternative incentive to entice students: going green. Chegg is currently planting a tree for every book they sell, rent, or buy back from students.
Social networking can also benefit students looking for affordable ways to buy text books. No longer are Facebook and Twitter reserved for updating what you’re doing every five minutes or checking up on the cute freshman that sits behind you. These sites include pages that allow students from other colleges and universities to connect through groups and sell books to each other or, in some cases, even allow “friends” to borrow their texts for the semester. Goodreads.com is a cyber book club. The group “College Students” includes a section for students to blog about books that people are looking to sell, trade, or loan out for little to no cost.
After several clicks around college websites, students have access to their college’s classifieds page. To access Castleton’s classifieds, students can go to www.castletonspartan.com/classifieds to browse or add items.
And of course, there is always the “old school” way to find book: flyers and ads on announcement boards around campus.
But Castleton’s bookstore is not concerned about students finding alternative methods. Already, Castleton posts book lists along with ISBN codes so that students can shop around over the summer. And, despite the various ways students can access their required texts, Castleton College book store manager, John Schwaner says the store has not seen a depression in sales.
“It’s pretty consistent,” he said. “There are always students that will find an alternative way. Which is fine with us!”
Schwaner believes that despite technology, more options for purchasing the supplies students need, and the changing ways that students are getting the information for their classes, that the Castleton campus store will continue to play a crucial role in supplying students- whether that medium is text books or the up-and-coming e-books.
“We will be a partner in whatever the vehicle will be for students to purchase their materials,” said Schwaner. “Hopefully, we can continue to meet the challenge to service Castleton students.