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The Indiana Daily Student

student life

Your guide to buying textbooks at IU


The first time you are tasked with finding a textbook or novel for class, the options may seem overwhelming. Depending on when you need the book — which is often listed in a class's syllabus — you may impulsively buy it on Amazon without looking at alternative sellers. From the IU Bookstore to local libraries and booksellers, here are some places to look for your next textbook.

IU Bookstore

One place to start your search is the IU Bookstore. On the IU Bookstore website, you can search for and view required course materials by entering your 10-digit university ID. If your instructor has added your required texts into the library system, you can pick from used and new versions of the book. The IU Bookstore sometimes allows students to rent titles — meaning students pay a lower price and return the book at the end of the semester.

The IU Bookstore also offers price matching against Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other sites. If the IU Bookstore stocks a textbook and the retailer advertises a lower price, the bookstore will adjust the price. However, all match prices must be transacted in-person at the campus store. You can find more information about IU’s requirements for price matching on the IU Bookstore website.

For more information on the IU Bookstore website or visit the IU Bloomington location in the Indiana Memorial Union.

IU and Monroe County Public libraries

Local libraries are another great (and free) option for finding your textbooks.

The IU Library system includes more than 11.5 million items — including 60,000 academic journals and 1.9 million eBooks — meaning there’s a high chance students will be able to find their required texts within the university libraries. You can start by searching your title in the IU Libraries database, which will show you the library building, stack, floor and call number the book is located in. The database will also show you if IU offers a digital version of the book.

Additionally, the Monroe County Public Library System — which has three branches located in Bloomington and nearby Ellettsville — offers students thousands of books. To access all of the library’s titles, students living in Bloomington can apply for a free library card online or at one of the MCPL branches. You must be able to provide a document to verify you currently live in Monroe County, such as a bursar statement.

To find your required text, you can search the title and author in the MCPL catalog. The catalog will then show you if the book is available, which branch it is available at, or if the library offers a digital electronic version.

The downside of getting your textbooks from IU Library or MCPL is there is a time limit on how long you can borrow the book. At IU, student loans are limited to 45 days. At MCPL, book loans are limited to 21 days.

Local independent booksellers

Some students also buy textbooks from Bloomington’s locally owned, independent booksellers. While purchasing from independent sellers might end up being more expensive than purchasing an item on Amazon, your purchase supports the local economy.

One popular bookseller in Bloomington is Morgenstern Books, located at 849 S. Auto Mall Road. Morgenstern Books has a title selection like what you might see at a Barnes & Noble, but with more books by local authors. You can search the store’s website or call the store at 812-676-7323 to see if they have the book you need.

Another independent bookseller is the Book Corner, located at 100 N. Walnut Street, a short walk away from Sample Gates. There is not an online search option for the store’s availability, so you would need to visit in-person to find a title. However, if the Book Corner does not have the book you need, you can fill out an online request form and the store will special order books for you.

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