By KresLynn Knouse, Assistant News Editor, @KresLynn
Traditional bookstores continue to compete with online retailers as students lean toward shopping online for their books. With the cost of textbooks soaring into the hundreds of dollars, students are making precarious decisions about where to buy their books so they can save some serious cash.
Online textbook retailers such as Half.com, Amazon.com, and Chegg.com often boast their low prices and extensive selection. However, the first reason students choose to buy their textbooks online is because they want to save money.
“Even though this will be my first time buying textbooks online, I’m not worried because I’ve bought from Amazon so many times and never had any problems,” freshman Solomon Akporere said. “The bookstore prices are just too high, maybe if they lowered their prices I would go there.”
Some students are wary of buying from the bookstore because of things they’ve heard from other students or read online. A common misconception among students is that bookstores have higher prices simply “because they can.”
David Morris, Textbook Manager at the UVU bookstore, cautions students about the inaccuracies there are about the bookstore.
“We’re not like a traditional bookstore—we don’t increase our price margins just because the textbook sells more copies,” Morris said. “Our margins may seem more expensive, but that’s because our market is just textbooks. We have software that allows us to adjust the cost to be competitively priced, so we’re doing our best to sell you that book for the lowest price.”
Although most students have had experience ordering material online, ordering textbooks online is another ballpark according to Morris.
“I’ve had students come to the bookstore in a panic because the book they’ve ordered online was the wrong book, or didn’t come with a required code. Other times, professors will change the course textbook at the last minute and students that ordered the previous book have to deal with returning it before the semester begins,” Morris said.
“Traditional bookstores hold several advantages over online retailers despite the higher cost,” Morris said. “We have staff here to support students and ensure they get the exact material they need for each class. Our books aren’t due back until after finals, and if you end up with the wrong book, we’ll replace it. Also, proceeds from the bookstore directly support UVU. The bookstore gives $20,000 annually to the athletic department.”
The UVU bookstore has initiated several incentives to get students who shop there a better deal. One way is through their rewards program at Scoops— just swipe your student ID with any purchase and the total cost will add “points” to your card. You are then eligible to earn up to a $25 gift card at the bookstore. Coupons for the bookstore are also available in all UVU planners.
“Discounts are a good idea, but I still think students are going to buy online just because it’s cheaper. Textbooks are expensive, so students want to save money wherever possible,” Masae Tao, a senior, said.
The bookstore’s high prices are a deterrent to most students, but there are advantages to buying from the bookstore similar to the advantages of buying online. Students just have to consider if they would rather have support in person, or if they just want the cheapest book available on the market.