Aug 232004
 
Authors: Kathryn Dailey

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The average student is unable to boast a large pocketbook.

Yet, even if she could, Susie Eggleston, a sophomore watershed science major, would still find textbooks overpriced. In her first year of school she spent more than $1,200 on books alone.

“When you pay $50 for a book that’s only a quarter of an inch it gets a little annoying,” Eggleston said.

The Internet, although sometimes an overlooked way to find textbooks, allows students to find some books at lower prices.

Amazon.com allows individuals to sell books at a variety of prices. Books are organized by their condition, and since the inventory changes often, it is easy to find a book to fit nearly any budget.

Ken Kim, an open-option junior, finds the best Internet buys at half.com.

The Web site offers books at a fraction of their list price. Kim suggested buying from a seller with plenty of positive feedback to ensure the quality of the books.

“They usually look better than the used ones in the bookstore,” Kim said. He said used books online are usually $10 to $20 cheaper than bookstore prices.

While buying online can be fast and easy, with books delivered directly to the buyer’s home, the downside is the books’ condition cannot be assessed before they are purchased.

Another dilemma can be finding a specific edition of the book needed. However, all textbooks have an ISBN number that identifies each edition of each book uniquely. Kim suggests finding ISBN numbers at a local bookstore and using those to search online.

Some students prefer to shop at local retail shops. Buying from local bookstores offers convenience, with the University Bookstore in the Lory Student Center and two independent stores within a mile of campus.

While Kim swears by cheaper online prices, Terry Clayton, textbook manager at the University Bookstore, believes there are some advantages to buying books on campus. While purchases off campus stay off campus, the bookstore puts some of its profits toward student programs within the student center.

“We turn around and support the CSU community,” Clayton said. “We have to look out for students.”

Clayton also said that Margaret Gearhart, book division manager for the University Bookstore, works with publishing representatives to keep prices low.

The bookstore tries to keep prices low by buying textbooks back from students and reselling them. Students receive half the price of a new book when they sell back a textbook being used by a professor the following semester.

The bookstore is only able to keep prices low if professors to get their adoptions. Adoptions are the texts that instructors decide on for the upcoming semester. The earlier the adoptions are in, the more time the bookstore has to search the national market for used books and work with publishers to get new books for used prices.

Rams Bookstore, 130 W. Laurel St., also works with publishers to try and keep prices low for students. Coupons are also offered to help students. If a student spends $100 or more, the coupon will take off $5. With the use of book reservations, students can save $10 of purchases of $200 or more.

“We take a lot of pride in our customer service,” said Griff Kull, co-owner of Rams Bookstore. Kulls said Rams Bookstore is a one-stop shop and employees know where to find books quickly. Kull also said that there is a lower markup on other goods than other local bookstores.

After comparing four widely used textbooks, the local bookstore with the lowest prices was Big Dog Textbooks, 829 S. Shields St., Suite #100. Manager Dave Dyer said to keep prices low, Big Dog tries to run its business efficiently and concentrate on textbooks, not soft goods.

While Big Dog does buy back textbooks at the end of the semester, it is stricter with its return policy, which requires students to have proof that a class has been dropped before a book can be returned.

With local bookstores and online sources, CSU students have multiple options when purchasing textbooks.

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