Students look for alternatives when it comes to buying books

Julio Cesar Chavez, Staff Reporter

According to the College Board, the average university student will spend $1,200 on books and supplies every year. Students are trying everything possible to bring that number down.

UTEP students are spending as much as $160 for every textbook at the campus bookstore, while others have rented books at an average of $30 per book from online retailers.

Some new students have bought all their books new from the bookstore.

“Because I’m a freshman I don’t know where else to go,” said Evelyn Hernandez, a freshman nursing major who has spent around $300 on four books.

Buying books on campus, even at the high prices, is not a problem to some, who simply attribute the prices to the cost of convenience.

“I just like that it’s on campus,” said Megan Vasquez, a sophomore mechanical engineering major. “I think that’s why some of them are very expensive.”

While the bookstore can be visited right after a professor assigns a book for class, there are other options.

The closest alternative to the campus bookstore, CBA Textbooks store on Mesa Street, has recently closed, but there are other alternatives. Textbook Express, located on 7428 Gateway Blvd. East, remains active providing a different option for students.

The book-buying options do not end with Textbook Express. Students can also go online in search of their books for the semester.

Online retail website Amazon offers a rental and retail service, with two-day shipping for Student Prime members. Chegg, another online competitor , buys, sells and rents books. Chegg also offers a free digital edition of the book for access while the book ships.

Amanda Sanchez, a junior clinical lab science major, avoids the campus bookstore entirely.

“I purchased both (textbooks) online, I don’t even bother going to the bookstore,” Sanchez said. “That’s my absolute last resort because you will never get a good price there.”

She spent $200 on both of her books for this semester.

The decision to rent or buy textbooks is one to also take into consideration.

As competitive textbooks retailers continue to gain popularity, UTEP Bookstore officials said they try to stay in the market while helping students.

“Rent and digital options are critical for the bookstore to remain competitive,” said Fernando Padula, the UTEP Bookstore director. “Rent remains the best option for students nine times out of 10, along with digital. The only time buying is better is when the books will be used for more than one semester.”

Some students, however, are not too keen on the concept of rentals.

“It’s better to have your own books instead of having to return them,” Hernandez said.

If students do decide to buy online, professors advise they make sure to get the correct edition.

“I feel more comfortable buying them here because I’m sure it’s the book I need for class,” said Stephanie Rodriguez, a sophomore pre-nursing student.

Besides renting and online retailers, many students buy and sell textbooks from each other. The UTEP classifieds offer a place for students to sell their books and for others to search for the necessary texts for their classes. Students buying used books should make sure they are using the correct edition, as some professor may give work specific from a new edition that is not available used.

“It’s always good to find new stuff,” Hernandez said. “If it doesn’t work well, I’ll come back (to the bookstore).”

Julio Cesar Chavez may be reached at