LV Life Editor
Fifteen out of 20 University of La Verne students surveyed informally said that they buy their textbooks from various online sources – instead of the University of La Verne Bookstore.
The declaration of bankruptcy by Borders Group Inc., and the closing of more than 200 stores, coupled with the availability of better prices online, indicate a shaky future for chain bookstores – including the ULV bookstore, which is part of the Follett Corporation that runs many university bookstores.
“I always buy my textbooks online, because the bookstore is overpriced for everything,” freshman philosophy and creative writing major Ryan Castillo said. “I refuse to buy anything there when it’s available elsewhere for a more reasonable price.”
Twelve of the 20 students surveyed said they use online services such as Amazon and Chegg, citing cheaper prices, convenience and better customer service.
“I get all my books at Amazon and if I can’t get them there, I go to half.com,” freshman business administration major and creative writing minor Rebecca Ayala said. “The school bookstore is always my last resort because it’s expensive, even when they’re used, and I think they offer poor customer service.”
“I buy most of my larger textbooks for my major through Amazon because it’s less expensive, and I get my General Ed books through Chegg because it benefits the environment,” sophomore mathematics major Brittany Dale said. “The only books I do buy through the bookstore are my reading books for my writing classes.”
In addition to offering textbooks for rent at low prices, Chegg plants a tree through the American Forests Global ReLeaf program for each book rented through its site, making it a popular pick among students.
To date Chegg has planted more than 4,000 acres of trees through the program.
Amazon, popular for low prices and convenience, also has a book buyback program, which allows students to sell back used books that are in good condition to a third-party merchant.
Through the program students can ship their items for free and are compensated with an Amazon gift card with the appropriate amount of money.
“Amazon is my go-to source because they buy back my books for great prices, while the bookstore buys them back for a tiny fraction of the cost or don’t buy it back at all,” freshman business administration major Ariel Cole said. “Usually after I sell my books back I can turn around and buy textbooks for the next semester on Amazon using the money that I received from the buyback.”
The La Verne bookstore also allows students to buy textbooks online or in-store and sell back textbooks at any time.
It also allows students whose financial aid exceeds the cost of their tuition and fees to apply their remaining amount toward the cost of books.
“I buy my books at the bookstore simply because it’s right by campus and you don’t have to pay shipping and handling or wait for the books,” sophomore biology major Rachelle Sellen said.
However, many students feel that the bookstore’s convenience stops there.
“Their prices are not competitive enough, their new books are expensive, and their selection of used books is rather small or in some cases nonexistent,” freshman psychology major Danielle Locke said. “I buy online now, because I can’t afford the bookstore prices.”
Many of the students surveyed said that they were most frustrated with the expense of the books and the small amount of money they received when selling books back to the store.
“The bookstore is frustrating because it buys books back for a tiny fraction of the cost or doesn’t buy them back at all,” Cole said.
“It’s ridiculous that they sell you a book at the beginning of the semester and won’t buy it back at the end because a new edition has come out,” Castillo said. “That’s why it’s much easier to just sell them back online.”
Sixteen of the 20 students surveyed said that they think the bookstore needs to lower its prices, widen its selection and improve its buyback program to increase business and stay competitive with its online rivals.
Representatives from the University bookstore could not be reached for comment.
Lauren Creiman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.