Like clockwork, just before the start of the academic year, the bookstores fill with the smell of fresh press ink and students begin compiling their book lists. The prices of academic books can be daunting for some international students, but there are plenty of options for those, who wish to obtain their books by other means.
Buying books second hand is a good option for both your wallet and the environment. Usually students will sell their books at 50% of the original price or less, and e-shops like Stoobu or StudentSale offers select textbooks at around 55%. Some think that selling your second hand books is what drives the high prices of academic texts, robbing publishers of profits and forcing them into continuous “updating and editing”.
This year’s or last year’s edition? This question bothers many, and Berend Sangers, the manager of the studystore, says that in some fields updates are necessary. “In most scientific fields there is ongoing research, and you need to be up to date with your study materials. That calls for book updates every now and then. In some fields like history, the books don’t need new editions, because the content doesn’t change so much, and increasingly the publishers put supplementary information online. “
Sell, Sell, Sell
Many students opt to sell their books either to students or places like studystore, which has recently begun buying used books at 40% of their original price and re-selling them to students in need. Berend Sangers says that buying second hand books back from students has already been a great success. “Students need to realize that book prices include author royalties, production costs, marketing, transportation, and salaries. Our profit margins are small.”
Saul del Compare, an international student, is not selling his last year books. He took a completely new approach – he is loaning or giving his books away. “First of all, books take up precious space and I want to get rid of them. But more importantly, I lend the books to help students with the problem of how expensive the texts are. So far, people have been interested but skeptical. They think that the books are in poor condition, and I even had people who want to pay for the books thinking that there is something sketchy if they take them for free.”
In the end, the university website states that you need to put a hundred euros aside every month for books and study supplies, which might vary per study, but is a pretty good rough estimate. So even though it is pretty hard and pricey out there in the academia world, don’t say you haven’t been warned! MD