University Park

Buy your textbooks now

University Park, Pa. -- With fall semester about to begin, students are reminded that they should have their textbooks purchased before the first day of classes. The Penn State Bookstore on campus, managed by Barnes & Noble, has compiled information that may prove useful to students as they prepare for the start of classes.

Q: How much will my textbooks cost?
A: Budget $500 to $600 for textbooks. Costs will vary based on students' classes and majors. An engineering or law major's books will cost more than a history major's books. Students can check the prices of specific books on the Penn State Bookstore Web site. Go to and click on the link to textbooks. New and used textbooks also can be purchased through the Web site.

Q: What is the difference in cost between new and used textbooks?
A: The Penn State Bookstore discounts used books by 25 percent.

Q: How do I know what books to buy?
A: Books are arranged by course and section. Students should follow their course schedules when purchasing their books. The Penn State Bookstore has in-store schedule printers that access students' schedules with a swipe of the students' ID cards.

Q: Can I return textbooks?
A: Students have one week from the start of classes to return textbooks they do not want to keep. A receipt is required, and the book should be in the same condition as it was when purchased. After the first week, with proof of schedule change and receipt, a full refund will be given up to 30 days after the start of classes. Textbooks must be in original condition.

Q: Can I sell my books back any other time?
A: Yes, books can be sold back at any time, but most often they are sold back at the end of a semester. Bookstore buyback prices vary. The Penn State Bookstore offers 50 percent of the selling price for books that will be used the following semester. For books not being used, they offer the wholesaler's buyback value, which can range from between 5 percent and 30 percent of the selling price. In some cases, a book may not have a buyback value.

Other tips

-- Shop early. Used book inventories are at their highest when the semester starts. Also, the Penn State Bookstore sends its unsold books back to the publishers as mid-semester passes.

-- Get help. Many books have study aids. Students who had difficulties with a subject in high school should consider buying available study aids for that subject.

-- Questions? More information about buying textbooks can be found at online, or by calling the Penn State Bookstore at (814) 863-0205.

Last Updated March 19, 2009