January signals the beginning of a new year and, for college students, it signals a brand new semester chock full of new classes. The spring semester is just starting up and with it come the usual start-up costs: groceries, clothing and the dreaded books list.
Each year, students spend hundreds on their books, some of which are not even fully utilized, for their classes. As a result, some students have found alternative ways to save themselves (and their parents) extra money.
Cassandra Rosner, a junior studying music, music industry and business administration at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, N.J., is one of the many students that avoid the university bookstore. Rosner bought all of her books from the bookstore the fall of her freshman year, a mistake she said she would never commit again.
“I have bought all of my books from the university before and it’s absolutely ridiculous,” said Rosner in an online interview. “I’ll spend close to $800-$1,000.”
After complaining all semester about the cost of her books, Rosner was directed to Chegg by a friend.
Chegg, a website where students can rent books, has saved her hundreds of dollars. Users pay to rent the books and at the end of the semester they return the books.
“I spent a little over $400 this past semester on books so that cuts the costs almost in half,” Rosner said.
Rosner also went on to say that her university has a Facebook page where students sell their books to other students. Sharing books is another way to save some money.
Due to the control that college textbook publishers have on the industry, there has been a recent push for open-source material in what Slate called the open educational resources (OER) movement. Heading the pack for OER is Boundless, a start-up company that uses open-source (free) information to rebuild textbooks for students. The digitized copies of the textbooks are then available for students to use on their tablets or laptops.
John Leibold, a senior at Boston University (BU) studying communications with a focus in public relations and a minor in management, is the current campus marketing manager for Boundless at BU.
Leibold, who said he’s always been diligent about saving money on the cost of books, summed up what Boundless does.
“All of the information in your textbook can be found online, for free. Boundless just saves you the search.”
Boundless has expanded its collection of textbooks from last semester, Leibold said, with over 30 textbooks now in stock. Students that sign up for the site can also “demand” a textbook.
The OER movement has not been without its own share of problems. Educational publishers have realized the danger that open-sourced information presents and, as a result, they have begun to fight back with an on-going lawsuit against Boundless. The argument, Slate reported, is that since the company arranges its chapters in a way similar to the textbooks, Boundless is breaking copyright law.
However, students continue to sign up for Boundless.
Students have a lot to handle, just starting with financial aid and the rising cost of tuition. But with the rise in popularity of different textbook options, the cost of books might not be one for much longer.
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