WARNING: Limited textbooks available

opinion

EDITORIAL cartoon1They’re one of most costly requirements of higher education: textbooks.
Most times, getting them at Amarillo College is a smooth, no-thought-needed endeavor. You take your course list to the bookstore, wait in line, get help from a clerk and check out.
But this semester saw many bumps in the process. Students were told to buy the wrong books, forcing them to make a second trip for an exchange and causing the students who actually needed those books to go without. Instructors found their books hadn’t arrived in time for the start of the semester or stock ran out well before every student purchased a text.
Issues have continued well into the semester. Students who receive financial aid could purchase books only during a certain window, but there were no books to be found.
When the books finally arrived, they had to wait for financial aid checks to arrive because accounts already had been reconciled.
Some students who purchased books early and spent a good chunk of cash have found they have yet to need to even open the book.
Others who were required to buy a book with a one-time access code (books that cannot be sold back) were told after opening books that the code would not be used.
Then there’s the ongoing issue of unbound books. These books are not printed like traditional books – instead, the book pages are loose and students must make the additional purchase of a binder to keep track of a book that has no resale value once opened.
While some of these books appear to contain quality information, at least one lab manual from the spring semester contained subpar illustrations and grammar and spelling errors.
Students and instructors have one thing in common: they need the required texts to have a successful semester. But from issues of availability and cost to questions of quality, it’s no wonder the subject has been a sore one this year.
While it may be too late for this semester, we do have a few suggestions to help you avoid the Badger book blues in the spring.
Prepare early
After registering for classes, generate a book list through the online bookstore. If there are no texts listed for a class, email the instructor and ask if you will be expected to buy a text, if an e-book will suffice and if there is an access code or other materials needed.
Instructors can help by getting text lists in to the bookstore as soon as possible to avoid shortages in stock or late orders.
Compare prices
Once you know what text you’ll need, use the ISBN or title to look up the text online and compare prices. Amazon, eBay, Chegg, Hastings and Barnes and Noble all carry many of the same textbooks. You also can buy e-versions of both traditional and loose books at a significantly cheaper price.
If you have to wait for your financial aid to clear before you can buy a text, ask your instructor if you should bite the bullet and buy the book on campus or if you can wait until your financial aid is released and order it online or purchase it at a local bookstore.
Address any concerns
If you feel like you’re not getting your money’s worth out of a text, speak up.
To avoid a pricey stack of scratch paper, ask before you open the book if you will need it. Point out errors in the book.
If the instructor doesn’t care, mention it to the department head or your adviser.
Find other ways
to make your money back
Even if the bookstore won’t buy back your book, you may be able to sell it to other students.
Post the text on bulletin boards, in Facebook groups or tell your adviser, who may know a student who needs the text.

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