Beating Beck’s: Exploring options for buying textbooks to avoid the book store

Photo by Marielle Decena   College textbooks can add up to be a hefty cost every year for new and returning students.

Photo by Marielle Decena

College textbooks can add up to be a hefty cost every year for new and returning students.

By Vicki Martin, News Editor

$1,230, according to College Board, is the average amount a full-time private college student will spend on textbooks over the course of a year.

College Board states a new textbook will cost around $82 and a used one will cost a student $59. While buying used books saves approximately $23, it saves to bargain hunt when it comes to browsing for a cheaper option to this upcoming semester’s chemistry book.


Elmhurst College (EC)’s bookstore is a location to definitely have the books needed for classes. However, it is the least cost effective way to get textbooks, even when used. The only benefit to using Becks is that students can use financial aid funds to buy books there. If you log on to your TouchNet account and see a negative number in your balance, that means you have financial aid funds that can used to buy books and supplies in the books store.


While the book prices directly from Amazon or the publishing company through Amazon are not always competitive, even with an Amazon Prime subscription, books can be found used by private sellers trying to get rid of their old textbooks; saving some money.  However, shipping times can take longer when ordered from a private seller and costly, depending on where the book is coming from and how quickly one needs their book.


Chegg is an online textbook rental service. The process of renting is the best way to save money on expensive textbooks, according to Chegg’s website. 

Chegg claims to help save up to 90% with renting textbooks. 

If one chooses, however, they want to buy a book instead of renting, the savings are minimal at best.


The library located on EC’s campus is another way to rent a book without spending a dime; if a student can get their hands on the sought after book. 

The library does not have enough books to supply an entire class with books; so if one wants to go this route of getting textbooks, you run the risk of the library not having the more expensive books.


If the Buehler Library does not have the books a student is looking for, students can use IShare. 

IShare is a service college libraries sign up with to share their books amongst each other so students have access to books they might not otherwise have access to because of a libraries limited supply or not having a book entirely. 

The downside to this is one has to wait for books to get shipped from one library to theirs, which can take some time depending on where the book is being shipped from.


CampusBooks is the TripAdvisor of book shopping. All a student has to do is type in their books ISBN into the search bar and the website will do all the bargain shopping for you. 

Once the desired book is located, the website lays out all the possible places to get the books, whether the books are used or new and shows prices for renting and buying.


A torrent is a digital file of a textbook shared by one user for others to download through pier-to-pier services like The Pirate Bay. Not all books can be found this way and the ones that can be found are not always the current version a professor requires. 

There is also the risk of getting a sketchy file and downloading a virus as well as a free book. 

If a torrent copy can be found, it will save the most money by guaranteeing no money will be spent on a book. There is also no wait time beyond downloading. 

It should be noted that most torrent services are blocked on EC’s wifi, so it is best to search for files elsewhere.