SGA Bookstore works to keep textbook costs down
Aug. 31. 2015
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Students, graduates and even some professors are quick to offer tips for saving money on required class readings. The Slippery Rock University Student Government Association Bookstore has actually done something about keeping textbook costs down.
The bookstore, which students own through SGA, participated in a Textbook Taskforce Committee and expanded textbook rental, buyback and new/used programs to become competitive with online sources, said Joe Flynn, bookstore manager.
The average college student spends roughly $662 annually for course materials, up from $655 in 2011, according to the National Association of College Stores.
SRU students spend $600 a year on average, Flynn said.
"There is an emphasis on reducing the cost of textbooks, not just in the bookstore, but campuswide," he said. "We have three major wholesalers that traditionally we've been getting books through in bulk. But now we're looking at multiple sources. We're getting down and dirty and buying where we can."
Michael Farah, a history major from Ellwood City and SGA vice president of financial affairs, sent an email to bookstore staff saying he saved money this year.
Farah said he knows the bookstore has struggled in recent years to compete with online sites such as half.com and amazon.com. He was pleased with prices this year.
"Before this semester I had never purchased all of my books from the bookstore," he said. "I normally used online sites that were in many ways hundreds of dollars cheaper than the bookstore. This year, after the implementation of the new used book program, all the books I purchased were just about the same price as used copies that I found online. I was very surprised about this and happy that I could finally realistically buy from the bookstore."
He said he hopes more students will use the bookstore now that the prices are competitive with online sites.
"The quick turnaround - less than 24 hours - of my textbook reservations was a huge plus," Farah emailed to the bookstore. "I just wanted to send my thank you for all the work that everyone has done this summer and that it has not gone unnoticed."
With textbooks accounting for 70 percent of sales, Flynn said the bookstore recognized the importance of The Textbook Taskforce Committee for exploring prices. Flynn, Keith Dils, dean of the College of Education, Elliot Baker, executive director of academic records/summer school and graduate admissions, faculty and several bookstore staff serve on the committee.
"One of the things that came out of it is we're buying textbooks from many other sources, so that we're able to pass that savings on to students," Flynn said.
Another recommendation that has been implemented is expanding the textbook rental program. Flynn said students could rent 90 percent of the bookstore's textbook inventory, saving up to 30 percent.
"That saves students significant money up front," he said. "At the end of the semester, they turn them back in. They can write in the books, highlight in them. They just can't get wet."
Books in a Box is another program designed to help keep textbook costs down for students. Flynn said this enables first-year students to reserve textbooks during orientation. They reserve them with a credit card. Bookstore staff pulls the books and puts them in a white box, enabling freshman to collect their books during Weekend of Welcome.
"This gives them first shot at reserving used textbooks," Flynn said.
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