The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Unbound books not always best money saver

The premise seems simple enough: apply for admission, apply for financial aid, register for classes and start learning. One stop on the way to this goal may leave a sour taste in the mouths of some TCC students: the bookstore.

Students understand books are costly tools. One thing to look forward to is selling them back at semester’s end. In some cases, that works out fine. However, a trend toward loose-leaf books replacing bound books has changed that.

Follett on NE Campus said the cost of a new loose-leaf is roughly the same cost as a used bound book – a savings of between $20-$30. Which text to use is decided by each department, and faculty often say they choose the unbound books to save students cost up front.

Here is the kicker. The bookstore will not buy the loose-leaf book back. If a student purchases a new bound book for $100 and sells it back for $45, the book actually cost $55. If you buy the loose-leaf for $80 and cannot sell it back, where are the savings?

Students could sell the books to other students to make some of the money back, but most of these books come with access codes for materials and assignments needed in the class. Once the code is used, that is it. They end up stuck with books in binders because students don’t want to buy a book at a discount if they have to go out and buy a code anyway to access their coursework.

The access codes are another major concern. A student can decide whether to purchase a book for the semester, which should be the case. Now, however, many classes have content online that cannot be accessed without the code. Sometimes, the package deals that include the code are more than the textbook by itself.

Sometimes, this coursework is extra credit. But the majority of the time, it is actually required and graded.

This not only cuts out the option of not buying a book, it also cuts out the used book option – again, cost coming out of the pocket of the student.

Cost aside, students should find comfort in the fact that required books are available for purchase prior to the start of classes. This has been a major problem for a few departments, such as music.

A class piano section has a set number of students each semester – no more, no less. Why then, are there only six copies of the book available prior the start of the semester? Follett said this is due to averages. If the company looks back and sees it normally sells only six or seven books each semester for a 15-seat section, it will order only six or seven books the following semester. This seems logical and fair until the book is not available a week into the semester and the student has missed assignments or has to share with another student until the book is in.

Students should have the right to choose loose-leaf or bound, saving money up front or spending a little now and getting some back later. They should be able to purchase a used copy of a book and not have to worry about accessing extra coursework via code. Bookstores should stock adequate amounts of each book for each section, not worrying about whether they have an extra book or two they may not be able to sell because students have plenty on their shelves.

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