High Textbook Costs Push Students to Hunt For Alternatives

Photo Illustration by Haide Hernandez / el Don
Photo Illustration by Haide Hernandez / el Don
Photo Illustration by Haide Hernandez / el Don

By Andrew Mata and Mai Tep

During winter break, second-year student Carley Marta was in a frantic bidding war on eBay to buy her books at a substantial discount.

“Any amount I can save is worth it, because book costs are ridiculous right now,” Marta said.

Rising costs are pushing students at Santa Ana College to find alternative ways of buying textbooks.

“Publishing companies began to merge, creating less competition and thus, increasing the cost of books,” said Don Bookstore Manager

Thomas Bonetati.

The cost of textbooks has risen 82 percent over the past decade, according to a study by the Government Accountability Office.

“About 65 percent of students have opted out of buying a book because of the price,” Bonetati said.

Montse Serafin, a student at SAC, says she waits a week after class has started to decide whether she buys a textbook or not.

“I can’t afford them all. I only buy the necessary ones,” Serafin said.

In addition to buying used textbooks or renting, some share the cost with another student, or use a reserve copy at the library.

Serafin said she earns more money selling her used textbooks directly to another student instead of selling to the Don Bookstore where she may receive pennies on the dollar.

Christian Try, who has been working at the Don Bookstore since last fall, says that the buyback program is fair because the store is nonprofit.

“The money that is made is returned to fund other school programs,” Try said.

Another avenue that students may take is going the way of a third party retailer like Textbook Max, where they may receive more money or get a better deal on a book.

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“The prices are 10 to 40 percent cheaper compared to the Don Bookstore,” manager Eli Velazquez said.

The Extended Opportunity Program and Service is designed to help students in need by providing them with a book voucher for the Don Bookstore, if they qualify and the EOPS budget allows it.

The Associated Student Government Book Aid Program also provides students with vouchers for books, which they then return during finals week, to be passed on to another student.

Cherie Bowers, mathematics professor, has opted to use a free digital textbook for her statistics classes.

“One of the benefits of using a digital textbook is that it saves students money,” Bowers said.

She also said that one of the ways faculty members are trying to reduce the cost of textbooks is by working with the publishers and choosing parts of the book that are useful.

“Publishers must be pushed into lowering costs,” Bowers said.




As textbook prices skyrocket, enterprising students and instructors look for other sources, including free digital versions, online vendors such as Amazon and renting over buying.


Prices increased about 80 percent over the decade,the Government Accountability Office reports.

Opting Out

About 65 percent of SAC students have opted out of buying or sourced books off campus due to rising costs, Don Bookstore Manager Thomas Bonetati said.

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