Bookstore frustration fuels online shopping

by Andrea McNamara

Frustrated by bookstore prices, Simpson students are turning toonline shopping for this semester’s books.

“Just thinking about paying for books makes my head hurt,” saidsophomore, Justin Allen.

“You’re lucky if you can get out of (the bookstore) withoutspending over $300,” said Cliff Ewert, vice president of public andcampus relations for Follett Books.

The last couple years have not shown any decrease in sales, infact-sales have went up. The bookstore is using as acompetitive comeback to the increasing amount of online shoppers,according to Ewert.

“The only reason the bookstore survives is because it’sconvenient,” said freshman, Asche Rider.

Students have started turning to sites such as to purchase their textbooks.

The mailroom has noticed an increase in online shopping.

“Over 200 books pass through here in the first few days of eachsemester,” said Jeanne Dooley, mailroom assistant. “Even now wehave between 60 and 75 books come in each day, and students arecontinually shipping books out.” .

A quick trip to the bookstore will reveal that some books areout-of-stock. If you need one of the out-of-stock books then youare put on a list, a book will be ordered for you and you willreceive it in a week.

“We pride ourselves in the number of used books we stock,” saidEwert.

Still, when they run out, the prices for a new book candramatically increase.

“I get frustrated when there are no used books available, youpay $20 to $30 more for the same text that is in slightly bettercondition,” said Rider. “It’s disgusting how much they charge forbooks!”

As a first-year student Rider said that bookstore prices wereprobably the biggest shock to her after arriving on campus.

“This semester I’m sharing books to cut down on the cost,” saidRider. “I pay for all of my own books and last semester I spent$450.”

The promise of saving money has increased interest in onlineshopping.

“I saved roughly $200 by shopping online,” said sophomore,Christian Huntley.

Using, Huntley and other students have saved money onbooks that are brand new or barely used.

“Most of the books I’ve gotten online have shipped between twoand three days after ordering,” said Huntley. “All of the booksthat I’ve gotten are exactly what I thought that they would be-I’vehad no problems with ordering books online.”

Most sites will ship books within two to three days and shippingand handling is reasonable. At most books shipwithin 24 hours of purchase and shipping is free if you spend $25or more.

“I don’t have the time to buy the rest of my books online, butI’m going to buy as many books as I can online,” said Allen.

Simpson students claim to reap the benefits of online selling,making more than regular bookstore buyback price.

“I’ve started selling my books online because the amount you getback at the bookstore really isn’t worth it,” said Rider. “One ofmy professors doesn’t see why we don’t just boycott the Simpsonbookstore until they lower their prices. I think that professorsare disgusted about the high prices, but they really can’t do muchwithout sacrificing the quality of education.”

According to Ewert, Follett determines their buyback prices asfollows. If the book was new when purchased they establish theretail price and pay you half (this could change based uponcondition). If the book was used, then most of the buyback price isbased upon condition and wear. According to The College Board,students spent between $727 and $807 during the 2002-03 academicyear on books and supplies. The gross margin that each bookstoreretains from textbook purchases is currently 22.4 percent,according to the 2003 College Store Industry Financial Report bythe National Association of College Stores. This percentage hasremained consistent since 1998.

“I could have bought a new computer with all the money I’vespent at the bookstore,” said Allen.