The Power of Textbooks


Every college student has faced the wrath of textbooks. They’re expensive. You pay an arm and a leg for them in the bookstore. You find them on Amazon for a portion of the price, but you’re never sure whether you’ll have your book in time or not. You can rent them off of Chegg, but shipping is pretty inconsistent, too, and you can’t always highlight and write in them like you’re used to.

Honestly, the entire system is horrendous. I dread buying textbooks every year. However, there is a flip-side.

These books, the ones you buy, could be valuable resources to you later in life. Take a look at your repertoire. Are you sure you want to sell all of them back?

I’ve become a textbook hoarder, at least in certain subjects. Anything relating to design and writing…yup, they have a permanent home with one Kelly M. Rivard. My collection grows every term, too. I now have a book about Flash animation, journalism, creative writing, rhetoric, public speaking, and…as of today, I have a new crown jewel. Adobe PhotoShop CS4’s Classroom in a Book. I wish you could hear my squeals of excitement.

It’s not just the fact that I love the program and that the book is fairly interesting to me. While I really did enjoy reading all of the books I’ve kept, they’re a deeper purpose. They’re useful.

Think about it: what are the skills you know you’ll need later in your career? In your life? Books may become slightly outdated, but a few years’ change isn’t enough to render the textbooks you buy now entirely worthless. Even when Creative Suite 5 rolls around, Creative Suite 4 books will still be useful.

Your profs are smart (usually). They pick out books relevant to the skills and ideas you’ll need to foster (sometimes). These books are meant to teach you, and can continue to teach you into your career. You don’t want to be starting a fresh internship thinking, “Man, I should have kept that advertising law book!” You never know how important those books can be down the road!

Give a good thought about what books are going to be sold back to the bookstore or put on Amazon. The books you’re considering selling now could be better used on a shelf in the office you’ll have someday.

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2 thoughts on “The Power of Textbooks

  1. Great post! I've been in the same conundrum for four years of whether to keep or to sell. Like you, if it interests me I'll keep it. Usually advertising, political science, law, and history books have a place in my library. I avoid the university bookstore like it's the plague. How can they even say they're there for the students? It's a racket. I hope more schools will follow Abilene Christian's lead and implement smartphones and eReaders to replace textbooks- http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/12/iphone-university-abilene/

  2. Thanks, Spencer!A lot of professors here are making more use of our intranet options, posting cited readings and allowing for online discussion. This helps reduce dependence on text books, but it's still a huge expense.I have so much to say about this subject, there may be another post about it down the road. Probably when I have to try selling some of my books.

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