The Woes of Textbook Sharing

group of casual studentsThe price of textbooks has been sharply increasing for years now. Students and teachers keep searching for cheaper alternatives. Some advice in the past involved the sharing of textbooks between students. While this may work for roommates or a short amount of time, this practice is mostly frowned upon. The probability of loss or damage doubles when a book becomes a shared object.

Shared Time

The idea of sharing a textbook only allows one book to exist. This means each student needs access to the book. Scanning pages into a computer or copy machine could alleviate the stress of sharing. However, designated time with the book is necessary. Crunch time, like exams, will be more stressful if the book is not readily available.

Disgruntled Professors

Many professors build in grade points like participation or preparation. A personal textbook is often a large step towards getting those grade points. Participating in class without full access to a textbook will be difficult. Some professors even take off points for not having a book everyday. This shared book may cost you the 15% participation grade. Then, what happens during an open book test or quiz? The book cannot be on two desks, and loose papers will not do.
Most professors will require the use of personal textbooks. Saving money through sharing a textbook could cost you the grade you deserve.

Book Quality

College students are not the cleanest variety of people on the earth. A shared textbook will encounter food, beverages, elements and other unsightly things. That book will not be sold for as much money as it could be worth if it is waterlogged. Take care of textbooks not only for their buyback value, but also for the knowledge they hold. A shared textbook will get more tears, stains and bends due to the combined abuse of two students.


Even roommates who share a textbook, is not a good idea. Schedules do not always match up, even when planned. Things pop up like weather, friends sidetracking, forgotten assignments and anything else. Sharing a textbook makes more then one person responsible for a class grade. Putting that weight on a friend or roommate will strain the relationship.

The idea of a personal textbook is not just about money. College is primarily a learning environment. Adding the stress of a shared textbook will diminish the knowledge that the book could depart. There are plenty of other ways to get affordable textbooks.


  1. Kareem Ali says

    From my own experience, textbook sharing is impractical but its prevalence shows just how financially desperate the student body has become. Schools have a responsibility to find affordable textbooks for their students, especially in general education subjects like freshman math, chemistry, physics, and english. Most of that knowledge is decades old and is not changing ever so switching to a new edition is pointless.

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