Online retailers hurt bookstore
February 3, 2010 10:02 PM
With the cost of higher education increasing, some students are turning to online sources to buy their textbooks. But this might hurt them rather than help them, SFSU Bookstore officials said.
When students buy textbooks at the SFSU Bookstore, they are helping the University receive more funds for department programs. The SFSU Bookstore operates as an independent non-profit bookstore and donates its money back to the SF State.
"Anything made here at the bookstore goes back to the campus," Textbook Manager Wendy Johnson said.
In addition to this, the SFSU bookstore does a buy back program at the end of each semester. This program allows students to sell their SFSU bought textbooks back to the bookstore for a percentage of what they originally paid. These old books are then restocked at a cheaper price.
Last year the bookstore gave back $1 million to students. The bookstore could easily give back twice that amount if more students used the buy back program, Johnson said.
But with more and more students buying or obtaining their textbooks from uloop.com and half.com, textbook sales have decreased from last year already. And with fewer textbooks sold there are fewer books for the students to sell back.
"There has definitely been a decline in textbook sales because of the economy and online options," said Husam Erciyes, director of marketing for the bookstore. The exact percentage of decline is unknown, because it is too early in the year to measure.
Publishers, not University officials, determine the price of textbooks. Still many students complain that textbooks at the SFSU Bookstore are too expensive, and would rather buy them online where they can find them up to 75 percent cheaper. Uloop.com, rentbooks.info, half.com and amazon.com are only some of the means by which students are purchasing or renting their textbooks.
SF State student Aurore Etienne says she only buys her lab manuals at the bookstore while she buys the rest of textbooks from sites like these. "This [the bookstore] is a last resort," says Etienne.
Although there are many sources that offer inexpensive alternatives, some students stick to the campus bookstore for what they need.
"I usually buy here [at the bookstore]," says Guillermo Turcios, English literature major. "Usually I don't wait for online because they take too long to arrive."
As the student fees increase and personal budgets become tighter, many students who shop at the bookstore flock to the used books first. But with less and less students buying and then selling back textbooks, used books are becoming scarcer.
"The best way students can help keep prices down," Johnson said, "is by participating in student buy back."
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