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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Online sales challenge bookstore

    Angela Occhiogrosso, a sophomore majoring in Spanish and Latin American studies, purchased her textbooks in the UofA Bookstore yesterday afternoon. Despite rising textbook prices, students still crowd the bookstore to buy their required reading.
    Angela Occhiogrosso, a sophomore majoring in Spanish and Latin American studies, purchased her textbooks in the UofA Bookstore yesterday afternoon. Despite rising textbook prices, students still crowd the bookstore to buy their required reading.

    College textbook publishers are raising prices, selling books in bundled packages and creating new editions to maintain their control of the market, which costs students hundreds of dollars in the process, UofA Bookstore officials said.

    The growing number of local used-textbook retailers and online companies has cut into the profits of college textbook publishers, causing them to invent new ways to control the market, said Cindy Hawk, assistant director of the bookstore.

    “”If a professor decides to use the same textbook for another semester, then the publisher’s market has shrunk because the bookstore will buy back books from students and sell them used,”” Hawk said.

    In order to compensate for their financial loss, textbook publishers create new editions and bundle books together, Hawk said.

    Since the bookstore has an obligation to carry all of the necessary textbooks for every class offered at the university, it has to purchase some books it doesn’t even need, said bookstore director Frank Farias.

    Online textbook retailers such as Half.com and Amazon.com try to offer students a cheaper alternative to buying their books from the bookstore, but students should be aware that they have no way of knowing whether or not they are buying the proper textbook, Farias said.

    “”Besides, 75 to 80 percent of the time, we sell the books cheaper than Amazon.com,”” Farias said.

    Carlos Ruiz and Alejandro Lopez, both engineering seniors, said they plan on purchasing their textbooks online in hopes of finding lower prices.

    “”We have a friend who told us not to buy our books from the bookstore because it is much cheaper to buy them online,”” Ruiz said.

    Since the advent of online retailers, local textbook stores such as the Arizona Bookstore and Beat the Bookstore have had to find new ways to appeal to students.

    “”Our sales have been declining for the last three years,”” said Arizona Bookstore manager David G. Morgan. “”But we will still be around in the future because we can offer students personal customer service.””

    Beat the Bookstore compares the new editions of textbooks with the old ones and tries to find any discernable differences, said Kate Barnidge, Beat the Bookstore sales representative.

    Sympathetic to students’ tight budgets, the bookstore tries to offer as many options as possible including a used-book classified section that allows students to sell their books to other students, as well as to buy online renditions of textbooks, called e-books.

    Maria N. Chavez, a mechanical engineering junior, said buying textbooks from the bookstore was easier than buying from an online retailer.

    “”Usually, you can get your textbooks for cheaper online, but the closer you get to the beginning of classes, the more expensive the books will be,”” Chavez said.

    Farias said that those students who are willing to wait several weeks before receiving their textbooks from online companies may end up paying less for their books, but he also warned about the difficulty of returning books that are bought online.

    The Arizona Board of Regents created a task force to study textbook prices, which will meet in the beginning of September.

    Members of the task force, which includes administrators, students and faculty, are expected to submit a report to the regents by January.

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