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Pros and Cons of Sharing a Textbook

By Alicia Geigel

Upon walking into a new class for the first time, there are a few expectations that you anticipate: new friends, new curriculum, and the dreaded new textbooks. Typically, when you start a new course, you get a syllabus or course outline from your professor that details the projects, class schedule, class standards/expectations, and required textbooks for the class. For many students (myself included), reading over the book list for the semester can be discouraging, as the prices for textbooks are astronomically high and typically out of budget.

While textbook prices are increasing and money in your wallet may slowly be disappearing, in most cases, you do not even have to worry about personally purchasing a textbook for classes for a few reasons, one being sharing! Many people have mixed opinions about sharing anything in general, but when it comes to textbooks the opinions tend to get more and more polarized.

Sharing textbooks can be a reasonable alternative to buying a textbook yourself, but it's important to weigh the pros and cons of sharing before you make any serious decision about buying textbooks. Are you a college student trying to save money this semester? Are you a broke college student that doesn’t have the money to afford large purchases like textbooks? Looking for reasonable alternatives to purchasing textbooks for class? This comprehensive evaluation of the pros and cons of sharing textbooks will give you all the information you need to save money this semester!

Pros:

Money Saver: Perhaps the most obvious pro of sharing a textbook with a friend or classmate is that its a huge money saver. Instead of handing over all the money to buy a textbook yourself, you can split the cost with someone else and cut your costs in half! You and your friend can save even more money by renting your books instead of buying them (when possible)!  

Renting textbooks for class is a great way to not only save money but its also a way to avoid permanently buying a book you will never use again. Sites like Textsurf, Amazon and Chegg are the ones I use the most, as their prices are typically way better than what college bookstores offer.

Collaboration: Another awesome pro to sharing your textbook is the natural collaboration that flows with it! Think about it- when you usually have a textbook, you probably write little notes in the margins, highlight key terms, and mark important sections in the chapters. By sharing with a friend, you’ll not only have the benefit of seeing what your friend thinks is important in the book, but you’ll also be able to collaborate and study together! Can you say hello A+?

Cons:

Schedules: The problem with sharing anything in general, is that well, it’s not always available at the exact time you want it. Everyone in college is usually busy balancing between school, projects and studying, part or full-time jobs, extracurriculars, etc. Because of this, schedules can conflict between you and your friend, making it hard to effectively share the textbook.

Furthermore, sharing a textbook puts a great deal of responsibility on the person who is currently borrowing it, which can possibly be an external stressor among the both of you, which can potentially cause a strain in your relationship.

Book Quality: As stated in the previous bullet, sharing a textbook is a lot of responsibility, not only because of the scheduling aspect but also because you have to take good care of it. Your textbook partner, friend or classmate, wouldn’t appreciate it if you got coffee or food on the paragraph that she needs to take notes on.

Because of this, it is important to be extra careful with how you handle your textbook, not only out of courtesy of your textbook partner but also to get the most money back out of it as when you first purchased it.

Strict Professors: We all have had our fair share of professors to know which would approve of sharing textbooks and which would bite your head off for even considering so. Some professors are strict about how they want their students to act and participate in class. If you are a sharing a textbook with someone, it is likely that you will not be able to participate to your fullest potential as well as not being prepared enough.

Before sharing a textbook, consider how your participation grade will be affected by only having one textbook between you and your friend. Some professors dock points for not having a textbook every day in class, not participating well or frequently enough, etc. Additionally, in the chance that there was an open book test, professors usually won’t allow students to share textbooks or have loose papers.

Depending on what kind of student you are, how responsible your friend/classmate is, and the type of professor you have, sharing a textbook may be a good or bad thing. Before going with the option to share a textbook, consider the other person’s schedule, personal responsibility, and professor rules. If sharing isn’t ultimately the route you decide to go, there are plenty of alternatives you can go with as well. As always, good luck!