Students and schools find ways to ease textbook costs

LA CROSSE, Wis. - A new report from the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, shows book prices have been rising about 6 percent every year.

With the rising costs of college tuition, students do what they can to save money, especially when it comes to buying textbooks, but some ways aren't exactly legal.

Schools in the La Crosse area are working to keep the costs down.

It's one of the busiest days of the year for the Viterbo University bookstore.

"This is our Christmas," said Liz Gross, the store manager.

This back-to-school shopping is coming at a hefty price for sophomore Toni Decheck.


"It's kind of hitting you, like, ‘oh there goes all my summer savings,'" said Decheck.
She ordered some of her books through the Internet to save money.

"I spent on Amazon about $500 for four large books, but here I only spent about $150," said Decheck.

The university is partnered with Follett Bookstore management. Renting books costs about half the price of buying it new and it's the most popular option at Viterbo.

"Book rental has been around for about four years and it's saved students over $1.6 million," said Gross.

Meanwhile, graduate student Erin Kanadle decided to buy her books used through the bookstore.

"It's just easy for me to get them here (and) make sure I have everything right, and get what I need for classes," said Kanandle.

Used books can save students about 25 percent of the new price.

"We try to offer every title in a used format if possible," said Gross.

Then there's the students who try to save money, but not exactly in a legal way. A new national study shows 34 percent of students downloaded illegal copies online.

Thirty-one percent of students also photocopy or scan documents from other student's books.

While this may or may not be the case at Viterbo, for these students, buying the actual book is well worth the money.

"For me, it's something that I'll probably need as a reference in the future, so I keep all mine," said Kanandle.

Another option for students is getting digital versions of textbooks at the Viterbo Bookstore. Digital copies also have the potential to save students some money.

UW-La Crosse students can also get most of their books through the school's rental system. Textbooks there are already included in the tuition.

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