Aug 242003
 
Authors: Ben Bleckley

Some students are attempting to find better deals on textbooks by purchasing them on the Internet.

“I don’t think enough people know about the opportunities online to save that money,” said Jennifer Bishop, a Spanish and open option seeking business double major, who bought her books online Saturday evening.

As for the time it takes to find your books online, “if you’re being diligent about it, (I spent) maybe a half hour,” said Bishop, a junior.

Using ecampus.com, half.com and textbookx.com, Bishop saved $44.97 on three books.

“Students are going out to a market that’s already out there (the Internet) and exchanging books,” said Griff Kull, owner of Rams Bookstore. “And that’s where you’re finding prices cheaper than I can sell used books at the store. Students have eliminated the middle-man, essentially.”

Via the Internet, students can buy their books either new or used.

“For students who are price sensitive, who are looking for a greater depth and breadth of used book titles and better prices on new book titles, campus bookstores are simply not in a position to compete,” said Brian Jacobs, founder and CEO of textbookx.com.

John Parry, director of the University Bookstore, disagrees.

“There are some bargains on the Internet for those that go out and really look, although they are very limited,” Parry said. “If you have a class at CSU with 25 students . . . not all 25 of them are going to be able to find that book (online).”

Parry points out there can be other discrepancies, such as finding the right edition of the book, schedule changes and not getting a product in good condition.

“(The University Bookstore) is the most convenient place to get all your books in one stop,” Parry said.

Jacobs believes students will find they can save money and that will take precedence.

“There are really two kinds of conveniences,” Jacobs said. “One is the convenience of when you need to go pick up the book immediately, the same day that you want it, and then there’s the convenience of having a book shipped directly to your apartment or home.”

The effects of Internet sales on local businesses have varied.

“Probably the effect of the Internet so far has been positive. (The University Bookstore) offers the ability to get books two different ways off the Internet,” Parry said.

Not all bookstores’ experiences with the Internet are positive.

“I’m sure it has (affected our sales),” said Kull of Rams Bookstore. “I can’t measure it to any quantitative amount, but we’re not in a growth phase with our sales . . . and (I am) not sure where the market is going to go.”

Despite the possible advantages to Internet shopping, all parties agree that online sales do not replace university bookstores.

Students still need to visit the bookstore to find out what books they need for their classes. “It’s taken for granted,” Parry says. “That’s something students expect . . . (to) write down information to see what else is available to them.”

In addition to the need for book listing, there is always a market for used books.

“We’re not going to go away overnight,” Kull said. “As long as I can find and sell used books out of the store, I think there’s going to be a market.”

And when students cannot wait for a book to ship, the bookstore is a necessity.

“When students value the convenience of immediacy,” Jacobs said, “there’s the place for the college bookstore.”

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