R. Todd Smith, Clayton State University director of Campus Store Services, is the East Region Trustee for the National Association of College Stores (NACS) Board of Trustees.
As part of the leadership of NACS Smith, who also directs Clayton State University’s The Loch Shop, has the inside word on tips for buying college textbooks from a college store or, in this case, from The Loch Shop.
According to NACS, with the cost of a year’s worth of required college student course materials averaging $638 (that’s according to the most recent data gathered in OnCampus Research’s Student Watch survey of more than 12,000 college students), said students constantly seek ways to save money when it comes to textbooks. But they may risk not getting the materials they need to succeed in time for the start of classes by purchasing online or forgoing books for the semester altogether. Indeed, this second “option” is probably the epitome of “penny-wise, pound-foolish.”
The college store is a reliable source for textbooks, providing the most value for a student’s textbook-buying dollar. In addition to offering less expensive used books and rental of print and e-books, many college stores offer such money-saving offers as price-matching via price comparison software they offer in the store, free shipping, guaranteed buyback, and sales on textbooks the day before classes begin. In addition, many stores are investing in price comparison software in order to compete with online companies.
As a service to students everywhere, Smith and NACS offer the following tips on how students can save on their textbook purchases, while retaining the ease and convenience of purchasing from the campus store.
1) Become a fan of your campus store’s Facebook page and follow them on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Stores often give advance notice of money-saving specials to followers or fans.
2) Be cautious when purchasing course materials online from outside/unknown sources. Items might not arrive on time, be the incorrect edition of what your professor has assigned, or not include required access codes. Don’t forget to consider shipping expenses in the total cost of the textbook, and check refund policies. Your local campus store guarantees the correct title and edition chosen by your instructor.
3) Rent print or electronic textbooks. Almost all of NACS’ more than 3,000 college store members offer such options, giving cost-conscious students access to course materials for about one-third to half the price of buying a new text.
4) Check for customized options – they could be less expensive. If multiple books are listed on a syllabus, the store will know if there are customized options that the professor, store, and publisher have created that are less-expensive and contain only the content the professor requires.
5) Buy used textbooks. Shop the store early or buy directly from your college store’s web site to take advantage of used-book sales.
6) Know your store’s refund policy, especially deadlines. This way, you won’t be disappointed if you drop a class.
7) Keep receipts. Most stores require them for returns. Also, textbook receipts are helpful during tax season when filing for the American Opportunity Tax Credit. For details on how to apply for the credit, go to www.textbookaid.org.
8) Don’t write in or unwrap books until you’re certain you’ll be keeping them. Most sellers won’t offer full credit for books that have been marked or bundles that have been opened.
9) If you don’t see what you need, ask. Many college stores participate in exchange programs and can have the textbook you need sent to the store.
10) If you have questions, ask. Your college store professional is the course material expert on campus, dedicated to helping you obtain all of the educational tools you need for academic success in the format you desire.
Headquartered in Oberlin, Oh., NACS is the professional trade association representing the $10 billion collegiate retailing industry.