It’s no secret that textbooks are expensive, and students have long tried to find more affordable options.
Whether it’s downloading PDFs, borrowing a friend’s book or purchasing copies from social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, college students may not realize these cost-cutting measures could be detrimental to their academics.
“I’ve had no shortage of students who have purchased incorrect materials when going through other sources,” says James Harding, who is the course materials manager at Salt Lake Community College’s bookstore.
SLCC aims to keep college affordable for the student community. This includes making textbooks accessible, which eliminates the need for students to download potentially incorrect and illegal materials like textbooks and access codes.
Amanda Johnson, a second-year student at SLCC, says she has downloaded one PDF, which included all the correct material. Since then, however, Johnson says she hasn’t been as lucky, only finding PDF copies with incomplete or incorrect information.
“I [normally] rent used. It’s more affordable than purchasing a textbook through SLCC for me personally,” she says. “As much as paying for books sucks, [going to a credible bookseller] is the most guaranteed way that you’re getting the right information.”
The money that goes into purchasing a physical or digital book from SLCC’s official bookstore, however, comes back in part to the college, Harding says. And, if a cheaper textbook is found on Amazon or another credible bookseller, the bookstore will match the price.
“Students will get a gift card [to the bookstore] if our price is higher,” Harding says.
Jayda Jackson, a second-year student at SLCC, has primarily stuck to buying or renting textbooks through the school bookstore and has never had an issue with getting the correct materials.
“I searched #SLCC and #Textbooks on Twitter and luckily found the textbooks on sale,” says Jackson.
While there are plenty of options to rent or buy the correct textbooks, many textbooks are also available in the SLCC libraries for students to review and read on campus. The college has also created Open SLCC, a service that aims to provide open educational resources as a cost-effective alternative to traditional textbooks.