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New Trier Parents and Students Struggle with Books Cost

New Trier High School offers options such as e-books and used books to keep costs reasonable.

Jason Schwartz has just started his sophomore year at New Trier High School and on the first day of school he was expecting to spend about $200. Instead the cash register soared to $500 and Schwartz described himself as "shocked."

“I’m a little exasperated as we are just in high school,” Schwartz said.

While school officials say there's no way to define the average cost of books for New Trier students, most students will likely spend hudreds of dollars on books, on top of other school related fees.

Schwartz kept book costs low for his family buy purchasing new books which he plans to share with his twin brother.

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Using tech to ease book costs

In recent years, New Trier has also utilized e-books to help ease book costs for students. 

“We have seen our e-textbooks offer very competitive pricing,” said Nicole Dizon, communications director, New Trier High School. “The electronic textbooks also give us the opportunity to purchase selective chapters rather than entire texts which can be a cost savings to our families.”

The school also offers other options to ease the sticker-shock of book prices, such as selling used books and offering buyback options at the Follette Bookstore, which rents space from the school.

Some textbooks are given to students for free, courtesy of a state textbook loan program, Dizon said.

Promoting buyback programs

In a 2010 memo detailing the book charges, Paul Sally, assistant superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction wrote, "We can do our part by emphasizing the dates and process of the buyback through mailings, the adviser rooms, and the classrooms."

If students have no choice but to buy new books, which happens in the case when a particular text is discontinued, the students have the right to try and sell it back to the store at the culmination of the year, a practice that's been ongoing in colleges.

“We try to limit as much as possible the uses of new editions that do not have significant changes,” Dizon said.

Al Herd August 27, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Buying textbooks at the NTHS bookstore, or any school bookstore, is a financial mistake. My child is a NTHS sophmore and I found all the required text books through online bookstores, like alibris.com. All you need is the the book title/edition, or the ISBN number (preferred). We spent just over $100 for everything! For example, one book was $149 at the NTHS bookstore. I found it used,but in excellent condition for $17.50 with shipping. Try this; go to google, click on "shopping", enter the title or ISBN#, then sort by price low-to-high. Hopefully this helps someone next year or next semester. If anyone needs help, post here and I'll add more info.
Chi-an Chang August 27, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Hi Al, Thanks for sharing the website with readers! Best, Chi-an
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