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Books: To buy or not to buy… and from where?

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By Connor Murphy

Contributing Writer

[email protected]

Feb 10, 2015

   It’s no leap of faith to say that every student returning from winter break wants to kick off spring semester on a positive note, both educationally and socially. With the first few weeks of classes in our past, it’s only appropriate that we buy the tools necessary for a college education.

   I’m not talking about tuition or any fixed expenses that loom over us like the clouds of the recent #Snowmageddon2015. I’m talking about another snake in the boots of us countless students: buying books.

   Dating back to first day, freshman year, I’ve only noticed two trains of thought when it comes emptying our pockets for the textbooks, anthologies, course packs, iClickers, and other various types of classroom material needed to stand a chance of keeping that GPA up. They are:

   1. Buying books at either the campus bookstore or an off-campus local bookstore, or

   2. Buying books from the comfort of your own bed, through outlets such as Amazon and eBay.

   There are pros and cons to both, but I’m here to say that choice two is the right one to make 90 percent of the time.

   Sometimes the bookstore is the only option, such as when it comes to buying things like a course pack. Sometimes that only option is once again limited, as some professors only offer their course pack through one specific bookstore, which can obviously lead to some internal student screaming all in the name of academia.

   But don’t even get me started up on the types of hoops some of these stores themselves make you jump through. “Want to buy a book at our store? Here, why don’t you stand in this line to only stand in another line for an amount of time equal to having the first few chapters read and memorized, which by the way, is due tomorrow and will absolutely be a topic for class discussion.”

   I digress from maybe a personal and unrelated rant, even if this scenario is the stuff of any student’s nightmares. To understand this system of buying, renting, and selling course materials, I found that not everyone shares the same opinion.

   One student I spoke to about the topic, junior Nicole Cardinale said, “Buying books has been relatively simple and easy.”

   “I compare the UAlbany bookstore prices,” she explained, “with those on Amazon and eBay and come away with hundreds of savings, either way.”

   As fas as negative experiences, Cardinale said there was “only one professor who insisted on the newest edition of a book,” but “99 percent of professors won’t do this sort of thing.”

   Another student I talked to on the subject, senior Thomas Krzeminski, said, “I buy all my books on eBay for a lot cheaper than the bookstore.”

   Of the bookstore he added, “The only good thing about it is that it’s conveniently close.”

   As mentioned, the two approaches have their ups and downs. I’ve been as burdened by Amazon as a bookstore when it comes to those appalling waiting periods for the package to arrive from a third party because the usual Prime membership two-day free shipping wasn’t an option.

   On a side note, if you haven’t gotten a Prime membership through Amazon, please do now and mark that you’re a student when you sign up. You’ll thank me later.

   To encapsulate these online shopping mistakes, be wary of weighing the options between first and third party. Make your decision based on this: If you want to buy the book a little more expensive and have it guaranteed on time for classes, option one is for you. If you want to run the risk of starting your readings maybe two weeks later than everyone else and get the book for a penny in the process, option two is for you. Option one is the logical way, even if a few bucks are lost in the process.

   This is the final tip, and it’s important to preface this by saying I’ve heard just about every excuse for ignoring it. Buy the books! I know, it’s a painful process, to fathom that a significant chunk of change from already-barren bank accounts will be lost only to have the investment lose its value when trying to sell it back at the end of the year.

   There is a light at the end of the tunnel, though. Just consider, for one second, to read or put these materials that have been purchased to good use. Think of the ramifications of gaining the knowledge needed to succeed in your chosen field. Not buying them now may save money and time in the short-term., but in the long-term, not so much.

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