The Collegian
Tuesday, May 17, 2022

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Bookstore prices send students elsewhere

The textbook affordability crisis at the university bookstore has caused students to go elsewhere to purchase their books.

Roger Brooks, manager of the university bookstore, said he had been at the bookstore for 30 years and thought the books were "very high-priced."

"I'm aware that there are a number of places students can try to buy books," Brooks said. "We see a significant drop in the amount of books we sell."

The books cost the bookstore a lot of money, Brooks said. But a lot goes into making textbooks that didn't go into them 20 years ago, he said.

"It's not your grandfather's textbook anymore and does cost a lot," Brooks said.

Although many students buy used books, there are not as many as the bookstore would like, Brooks said. The rapid turnover of editions affects the number of used books available, he said.

Senior Chris Cosgrove said in the past he had bought and sold his books to the bookstore, but now he bought all of his books on Amazon.com.

"The teachers love when students don't buy books at the bookstore," Cosgrove said. "My professor was happy that I got my books on Amazon cheaper."

The bookstore tells students where they can try to find the books cheaper, Brooks said.

The Advanced Accounting textbook, co-written by Richmond professor Joe Ben Hoyle, is priced at $204.75 in the bookstore. On Amazon.com, the same textbook starts at $80, excluding shipping.

"It is a free textbook -- students can literally read the entire book online for free," Hoyle said.

The buybacks at the end of each semester have increased, Brooks said.

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"The way it works is that if we have been told we're using a book the following semester, we pay 50 percent of the new retail price," Brooks said. "I think that is why buybacks are picking back up."

The problem at this school is that not all classes are offered every semester, Brooks said. The bookstore can only buy books back that would be used the following semester, he said.

The comment the bookstore usually hears is "I'm not going to buy that," Brooks said. But often students end up buying the book, he said.

"When it comes to desperation time, you do what you have to do and buy the book," Brooks said. "It's a changing marketplace; everyone is aware of that."

The bookstore's buyback rate is still strong because students receive cash and it is right there, Brooks said. With the new marketplace, students can get back as much as they paid for it, he said.

Senior Tyler Parks said he had sold back eight books last year. It was beach week money, he said.

"Buying books at the bookstore is a bad rip-off," Parks said, "especially because the school requires new editions and then won't accept your old book. Then, you get nothing and you spent $150 on a textbook."

Senior Nicole Prunetti said all she had done was buy novels at the bookstore.

"I get $1 for a novel and I'll spend $20 on it," Prunetti said. "I'm dissatisfied with the system."

Brooks said at the end of the semester, the bookstore brought in a company who would set up and run the buyback program for the bookstore. This semester it will be South Eastern Book Co., he said. The buybacks will take place from the first day of exams through the last day of exam week, he said.

"I'm not pleased to have to sell these books that cost this much money," Brooks said. "But that's the way it is."

Contact staff writer Rachael Specter at rachael.specter@richmond.edu

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