To Buy or Not To Buy
By Dominic Fonce
Incoming Youngstown State University freshmen probably don’t give a lot of thought to where they should get their textbooks or if they’ll even need them.
Sabrina Kollar, an incoming freshman at YSU, supported this.
“I don’t know much about buying textbooks, but I know they’re pretty expensive. I think the [bookstore] prices are kind of ridiculous,” Kollar said.
Hanna Sassya, an upperclassman electrical engineering major, has advice for incoming freshman.
“Try finding online and PDF versions of your textbooks before buying them,” Sassya said. “You’d be surprised how many books are online for free.”
Brooke Conlin, an upperclassman nursing major, said that textbook prices can be overwhelming.
“My advice would be to wait until the teacher tells you if you really need it, or ask somebody who has taken that class with that teacher. I have bought a book for $200 and never used it,” Conlin said.
She recommended using Chegg.com to rent books, but also said to keep books for your major because you may need to refer to them later on.
Linda Strom, an English professor at YSU, said professors don’t always require unnecessary books on purpose.
“We are required now to order books for class months ahead of time. Sometimes, when you sit down to do the final class planning, you realize that the books you ordered months ago won’t work or you ordered too many,” Strom said. “I try to revise my book orders before classes begin, and then email students the changes.”
But if you think you can get by without using a textbook, teachers have ways of finding out. Strom said although there is no secret sign that a student has not read a book, deductions can be made.
“I can usually tell if I put students in a group to discuss a question, and someone is doing a plot summary for another group member. That’s a good sign that someone in the group hasn’t done the reading,” Strom said. “I also give a writing assignment or a pop quiz on the assigned reading that will out the ones who didn’t do the readings for the day.”
Christine Adams, a business and economics librarian at the Maag library, said they get textbooks for classes with a large number of students enrolled.
“If you’re in a bigger class, there’s a chance that that textbook will be here to checkout,” Adams said.
Meaning, if the class is a general education course of at least 100 students, there is a chance that the textbook will be available at Maag.
If Maag has a copy of a student’s desired textbook, they can check it out for three hours, but it cannot leave the library.
Although textbook prices are notorious for being high, Chuck Sabatino, director of the YSU bookstore, and Susanne Fox, associate director, said they obtain the books professors require and work hard to find students the best deals possible.
“Bookstores typically sell books at a 25 percent profit margin, while we sell at a 23 percent profit margin,” Sabatino said.
Sabatino said one third of the books have had their prices lowered this year to help students, and they provide alternatives as well.
“As well as 1,200 of our books being rentable … used books may be discounted up to 90 percent off its original price,” Sabatino said.
The campus bookstore often has book deals for students that can be tracked on their site — YSUBookstore.com — and they provide students with as much information as possible.
“We have a booklist program on our site that shows whether a book is a mandatory or optional buy, in accordance with the information professors send us,” Fox said.
When searching for textbooks, there are a lot of options for students, but a little extra legwork can leave students with some extra cash in their pockets.