While many students, and parents, head directly to the computer when it’s time to buy the next semester’s textbook, it’s smart not to discount the campus bookstore entirely.
Here’s why checking the campus bookstore is worth the time, and sometimes even a little more money.
The campus bookstore will carry the right edition for your student’s class.
Many students accidentally order the wrong edition of the textbook when buying online. This can inconvenience your student throughout the semester. The professor will reference specific pages for reading and assignments, and the page numbers often change between editions. Plus, the content may vary slightly. The bookstore will have exactly what your student needs. This is great considering the importance of getting the right book, as well as the fact that textbook sites, or even your student’s syllabus, can be unclear about which edition is offered/needed.
It’s easier to handle returns.
If your student needs to change her schedule or drop a class, she’ll have to return her book. If she bought it at the campus bookstore, she can easily walk in and exchange the book for the one she needs. Getting to the post office, FedEx or UPS to return a book she purchased online can be a big hassle. Make sure to factor the cost of transportation, plus the possible cost of return shipping, when you think about the potential cost savings from ordering online.
You know your student will have her book on time.
With the campus bookstore, your student can walk in and pick up the book she needs right away. She won’t be at the mercy of shipping time, which can end up dragging on for any number of reasons. You want to make sure your student has her books before her first reading assignment. Don’t let her get behind in class just to save a few dollars.
Your money stays on campus.
If the bookstore is campus-owned, the profits typically stay on campus. Surpluses are generally donated back to the school.
Your student can preview the “Used” book options.
When you order online, you don’t get to flip through the pages and see exactly how “used” the book may be. At the campus bookstore, your student can make sure that the book isn’t so marked up (or damaged) that it will be distracting to read and make her own notes in.
If you do decide to buy your student’s books online, make sure to check these 4 things:
- Verify the book’s ISBN number. This will ensure you order the right edition.
- Find out exactly when she’ll receive the book. If she lives on campus, add one day to the estimated delivery time for the book to get from the campus mail center to your student. If she won’t get the book in time to do her first assignment, it may be better to order the book from the campus bookstore. The savings aren’t worth starting off the semester behind.
- Carefully read the return policy. How much does it cost to ship back? Is it easy for your student to get to the post office, UPS or FedEx to ship the book? Factor in the cost if not.
- Check price comparison sites. Rather than go site by site, try a price comparison site that does the research for you.
Buying textbooks each semester can be frustrating. Remind your student to keep her books in good condition so that she can sell them back at the end of the semester and get the highest payback possible.