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Textbook Information

Get answers to your textbook-related questions

Textbook Basics

Even when you know what textbook(s) you're supposed to get, there are so many options that it can seem overwhelming.  Check out the information on this page to find out the differences between the various book format options, how to make sure you have the right book(s), and how to know you're getting good value for your money.

You can also contact Central Penn's Textbook Coordinator, Karen Jury, at 717-728-2249 or by email at karenjury@centralpenn.edu or TextbookCoordinator@centralpenn.edu

Textbook Terminology

Edition: unlike most fiction books and many non-fiction books, textbooks often have edition numbers.  Different editions of a textbook will usually have the same title, at least one or more of the same authors, and similar overall content to the other editions.  The differences might include the number of pages, number of chapters, organization of the chapters, specific homework questions/problems, etc.  Later editions (with higher edition numbers and later copyright years) could reflect changes in research/technology, updated/newer case studies, updated references (e.g. dial-up vs. Wifi, VHS vs. DVD).

ISBN: stands for International Standard Book Number.  An ISBN uniquely identifies each edition/version of a book.  All books with the same ISBN will have the same page numbers, chapter organization, homework problems/questions, etc.

*When you look at the information provided for your textbooks, there will always be an ISBN, and there might be an edition number (if applicable).  To make the best use of your textbook(s), match both the ISBN and edition number (if applicable).

Course Materials Fees

Students taking almost all Business (BUS) and Accounting (ACC) courses--and a few courses in Allied Health (ALH)--will be charged a "course materials fee" when they register for the affected courses.  This will allow students to have full access, from the first day of class, to the McGraw-Hill Connect/LearnSmart program without needing to do anything except log in to Blackboard. 

  • Students will not need to do anything except register for courses as they normally do--there are not extra steps involved on the student side.
  • The fee will be added to students' accounts with the Business Office, to be paid however they normally pay for tuition, fees, etc.
  • This fee means that students will NOT need to purchase a textbook or any other materials for the included courses.
  • Students do have the option of "opting out" of the automatic fee being charged to their tuition bill, but then they will be responsible for providing proof of purchase of the material to the school's Textbook Coordinator. 

Any questions about the course materials fee, including the procedure for opting out, please contact Karen Jury, Textbook Coordinator (karenjury@centralpenn.edu or 717-728-2249).

Print vs. Ebook

Which is better--print books or ebooks?  Choosing between a print or ebook is largely a matter of personal preference, although cost is a factor for many students.  Ebooks tend to be cheaper because they are less expensive to produce and distribute.  So you'll want to consider several factors when making the decision about which type of book to get for your school textbooks.  

Print Book Pros:

  • feel of paper, smell of the pages
  • ease of flipping through the pages and skimming
  • many options for highlighting and/or note-taking--different colors, attach sticky notes, etc.
  • easy and free to share with someone else
  • no battery or electricity needed

Print Book Cons:

  • can be heavy, especially carrying multiple books
  • print textbooks are usually more expensive than ebook of the same title, especially to purchase (to keep)
  • if ordered online, takes time to receive
  • need light to read in the dark

Ebook Pros:

  • lightweight--only as heavy as device used to read, even with multiple books
  • ebook textbooks are usually cheaper than print books of the same title
  • almost instant availability--no waiting for book to arrive
  • no extra light needed to read--devices usually provide illumination
  • search features are usually included--can find all instances of a single word/phrase
  • read aloud feature--can listen to the book being read while doing chores, etc.

Ebook Cons:

  • reading on a screen is not comfortable for everyone
  • highlighting and bookmarking options are available but limited to what is included with device/app
  • cannot be shared with someone else (unless device is shared)
  • needs battery/electricity to work

The best type of book for you is the type that you will use and will allow you to be successful in your studies. 

If that means paying more for a print book, then that will be a better value if it means better grades. 

If the cost difference means only buying 1 or 2 required books in print vs. buying all 3-4 books as ebooks--then having access to all your textbooks will probably mean better grades overall.

 

New, Used, or Rental

New: no one has used the copy of the book before, so it should have no writing, no highlighting, no bent pages, etc.  If you're planning on keeping the book, especially if you'll use it for several courses, New might be your best value.

Used: someone has used the copy of the book before.  The condition of Used books varies, and some sellers try to identify whether the condition is Very Good, Good, Acceptable, etc.--but those are still subjective terms.  Used books should contain all of the pages and should be readable.  Some sellers will send you a replacement Used book if you feel the condition is too poor to use it.

Rental: this could be a New or Used book (it will usually say which), and this copy of the book MUST be returned--and you will not get the rental cost back.  Rental books are usually less expensive than New or Used, because you are paying to have the book for a short period of time (and it can then be rented out again to another student).  If you do not return a Rental book, the seller will charge you for the cost of purchasing the book.

Ebook Purchase: To have 'perpetual' (long-term) access to an ebook, you need to select that option and have a device to download the ebook onto.  Then the access--on that device--will never expire as long as the device is working.

Ebook Rental: Almost all ebooks are available for short-term access--which is essentially the same as renting a print textbook for a set period of time.  Instead of needing to return a rented ebook--you will no longer have access after the expiration date.


Choosing between New, Used and Rental options:

Do not automatically choose whatever is the lowest price option, especially if you're considering renting your books.  Remember--rental books must be returned, so you won't get any of that money back.  So, if the cost of renting a book is close to the cost of buying either Used or even New--buying is probably a better value because you have the chance to sell the book afterward (or keep it on your bookshelf).

Our bookstore buys books back, and there are many online vendors that will buy books, including Amazon.  You could also try selling to other students.

When you purchase from the school's online bookstore, you might have the option of Guaranteed Buyback.  That means that when you buy the book, they promise to buy it back from you at the end of term--and they promise a specific amount that they'll give you.

*If the book will be used in more than one course, renting is probably not your best option--because then you'd need to pay to rent the book more than once.  (If you're not sure if a book is used in more than one course, contact the Textbook Coordinator.)