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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Pizza Cat Vol. 3
Deirdre Northrup-RiestererFebruary 26, 2024

Students explore textbook options

Many students have approached a new semester in college looking for the best prices when buying or selling their textbooks.

An NMU student can expect to pay an average of $42 per book, and needs an average of two books per class said Paul Wright, assistant manager of the NMU Bookstore.

This means that a full-time student taking 12 credits can expect to pay about $250 per semester for textbooks. This estimate can be much higher for students who take more than 12 credits.

The College Textbook Affordability Act, approved by the Senate in 2007 and pending review by the House of Representatives, would require institutions to list the ISBN and price of course books on class schedules.

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If passed, it would also require publishers to make available the nature of revisions made in new editions of a book. This could drastically lower the prices of textbooks since a professor decides that a new edition is not necessary. For example, Wright said that the latest edition of PH 201 “Physics” by Cutnell and Johnson sells at $146.67 new and $110 used, while the previous edition sells for $37.50, used. And it’s up to the professor which one they will choose.

Karla Meredith, an undeclared sophomore, said she despises the price of textbooks.

Through the NMU Bookstore, she pays approximately $400 per semester for her textbooks, and last semester she received around $90 at buybacks.

That’s $310 out of her pocket for textbooks, on average. As a result, she said she has tried to find them elsewhere for a better price. She said she prefers to purchase her textbooks from vendors other than the school bookstore.

“Prices are high, and you can get the same book for half the price or less someplace else,” she said.

According to www.nacs.org (National Association of College Stores), 16 percent of students currently buy their textbooks online.

Of those students, 69 percent purchased their textbooks outside of their schools’ bookstore Web site. Textbooksnow.com offers to pay the cost of return shipping for textbooks they purchase from students.

However, their list of needed textbooks varies widely, and sometimes a student using the site may find that the book he or she is looking to purchase or sell simply isn’t on the list.

Half.com, hosted by parent company eBay, offers discounted textbooks, but specifies that no supporting materials, such as CDs, are not sold on the site.

According to the site, the best months to sell textbooks are August, September, January and February.

Wright said the NMU Bookstore tries to sell more used than new textbooks, to help students save money. And while the average U.S. bookstore (with sales of $3 million to $7 million) sold 27 percent used course materials in 2006, NMU’s rate of used textbooks sold for the winter semester was 57 percent. During buybacks, NMU determines the amount of a used textbook it needs for the following semester, and buy that number of texts at half of the new price from the students. However, any textbooks brought in that exceed the amount of copies needed are bought back at the wholesale price, which is usually a lot lower, so it’s best to get in quick, said Wright.

Whether students choose to buy their books online or from the local bookstore, exploring many textbook buying options will prove worthwhile for any NMU student.

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