Selling back your textbooks can be the silver lining of many long semesters. Sometimes you can never put that horrible Biology 101 class behind until you actually sell the book back after the final. That Bio class gets the last laugh however when your classmate standing in front of you sells her book back for $50 while you receive $5 for the exact same book. Typically the bookstore employee won’t be able to offer an explanation beyond, “I’m sorry that’s just what the system told me.” Truth be told when you get paid minimum wage you aren’t privy to the reasons behind the buyback variances. I however can let you know that the two biggest factors that affect buyback prices are timing and simple economic supply and demand.

The reason for the huge swing in buyback prices between one book and the next is pure supply and demand. The demand for that Bio book consists of 50 students next semester. This means that the bookstore will only pay a premium on the first 50 books that are sold back. Every book sold back after the 50th will unfortunately be at a greatly reduced price. Timing is key during buyback season. The earlier you are able to sell back your texts the more likely you are to fall within the Bookstore’s demand criteria. The more money you are going to make.

There is a far more important factor at work than timing. You can curse the people standing at the bookstore counter but they aren’t the ones setting the demand for next semester’s books. Most students don’t think about it, but it’s the professors who set the demand. The bookstores aren’t forcing you to buy that $300 Shakespeare Folio. The Instructors are the ones who put together the required text lists. Unfortunately, their students’ financial wellbeing isn’t usually on their minds when they do this.

The earlier a Professor is able to place his or her book order the more beneficial it is to the bookstore and subsequently to the students. In fact the Professor’s order is the single most important factor in establishing demand for textbooks across the country. If the bookstore knows that a specific textbook will be used the following the semester the buyback price can skyrocket. Again, the price is determined by the demand. If you want to make the most on your buybacks let your professors know how much you learned from the textbook and encourage them to reorder them quickly. Like students, most Instructors don’t think about next semester’s books until the end of the current semester.

By: Dan Russell

Few things in life are guaranteed. According to Ben Franklin and a long ago American History class the only guarantees in life are death and taxes. Thankfully after 200 plus years we can now add text buybacks to that illustrious list. More websites and even many bookstores are now offering guaranteed buybacks on certain texts they sell. The most notable of these is Textbooks.com.

Textbooks.com’s guaranteed buyback program is well established and can be quite beneficial for students. Qualifying books are easily identified on CampusBooks.com’s price comparison tool and students will know prior to the purchase if their book will be bought back and for exactly how much. This means no more buyback counter lotto where you can get anywhere from nothing to $100 on any given book.

The guarantee is ironclad as long as the student adheres to a couple of rules. The book must be returned within a specific time frame at the end of each semester. For the first semester this is December 31st; for the semesters ending May 31st books must be returned by June 30th. Textbook.com also provides a free shipping label to cover the costs. The book must also be returned in good condition. Which means no excessive highlighting, no ripped pages, and no water damager. All you need to do is take care of your book and get to the post office on time to guarantee yourself 50% of your purchase price.

Textbooks.com insists that you purchase a new copy to qualify for the buyback guarantee. As a result you might still save more money by purchasing a used copy and taking a chance at the buyback counter. This however can be a huge risk because it is always possible the book will resale for nothing on campus. I prefer the thought of money in the bank and guarantees help me to sleep well at night.

What if you could balance out every bad thing you’ve ever done by paying a couple cents to offset it? Well of course you can’t offset every bad thing you’ve done! However, now you can at least offset the bad things you do to the environment when you have books shipped to you! One of our bookstore partners, Better World Books, now offers Carbonfree shipping. With Carbonfree shipping, buyers pay a few extra cents per book at checkout. Better World Books then uses that money to buy carbon offset credits, which are used to fund renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation projects. Better World Books buys enough carbon offsets to negate the carbon dioxide emissions that will be caused by the shipping of the books that you purchase, so bibliophiles can indulge in their addictions guilt-free!

Here is a little more information about how carbon offsetting works:

According to CarbonFund.org, the average American is responsible for about 23 tons of CO2. Carbon dioxide emissions are caused by the burning of fossil fuels that people use everyday to run their cars, heat their houses, and receive consumer goods like groceries and clothes that are delivered via trucks and planes to stores. How much carbon dioxide each person is directly responsible for emitting is called their carbon footprint. Buying carbon offset credits allows people to negate their carbon footprint by contributing their money to environment-rebuilding projects.

CampusBooks.com is proud to be a bookstore partner of Better World Books and we applaud their bold step to strive towards carbon neutral status. Try using the Carbonfree shipping option next time you purchase a book! For more information please visit Better World Books Carbonfree and What are Carbon Offsets.

Pick your textbook, rent it for the semester at a fraction of the purchase price, send it back for free–plant yourself a small forest by the end of your college career! This ambitious eco-friendly claim can actually be realized if students rent their textbooks from CampusBooks.com bookstore partner, Chegg.com. Chegg.com is now making it easy, cost-effective and environment-friendly to rent textbooks. Here’s how:
Easy
Students select the book, receive the book by mail, keep it until the end of the semester, and send it back to Chegg.com using a pre-paid shipping label paid for by Chegg.com. No waiting in line to buy the book, no waiting in line to sell it back for a loss. If a student loves the book, they can buy it. Simple. Straightforward. Now if only memorizing the book contents were that easy!

Cost-effective
The average student can save up to 80 percent or more by renting from Chegg.com. This means a $146.95 chemistry book can be rented and used for only $13.65, a $109.95 psychology book can be rented for $13.10, so on and so forth. Searching for the book through CampusBooks.com will notify students of the lowest price available for their book, so they can make informed choices about whether textbook rental is the most economical choice for them. With all that leftover money, students can finally stop digging under the couch cushions for change!

Environment-friendly
According to the Green Press Initiative, the U.S. is responsible for the consumption of 20 million trees per year for books [1]. In order to help reforestation efforts, Chegg.com will plant a tree for every textbook that is rented from the Web site.

Students can now rest easy that when they shop with CampusBooks.com, they are not only assured of getting the lowest price, they are also given options to protect the world that they are studying to impact. We are proud to be bookstore partners with Web sites like Chegg.com and BetterWorldBooks.com.


Source:
[1] The Green Press Initiative: http://www.greenpressinitiative.org/impacts.htm.

In case you have not done a price comparison in a while (although why you wouldn’t want the cheapest price is beyond us!), we’ve revamped the price comparison page. We know making our pages more user-friendly means you have an easier time finding the cheapest textbooks, so here are the new features we think you will find most useful:

1) Textbook Price Alerts–Name your price!

You tell us the maximum price you want to pay for the book. We email you when the textbook drops to that price or lower. You can select up to three books per price alert so you don’t have to set up a separate alert for each book. Could it get any easier?

Scroll your mouse over any of the following icons on the comparison page to see an information box that shows:

2) Seller’s Comments

Read the seller’s comments about the condition of the book—before you ever click the “Buy It Now” link. That way, you know whether or not the book is worth looking at before you even open up that bookstore partner’s Web site. We save you money and windows!

3) Merchant Details

Merchant details gives you the two most important details you want to know about a merchant before you decide to buy—standard shipping prices and return policy. This feature will save you time spent looking at merchants whose return policies you do not agree with.

4) Online Coupons

Magic words to every college student’s ears. Scrolling over this icon will show you current available coupons to save you even more money. We also tell you the expiration dates and coupon code to enter at checkout!

We hope you are as excited about using these new features as we were to design them! Our goal is to help our customers purchase books in the most painless way possible. After all, you shouldn’t have to worry about finding your books when you already have to worry about paying for them! Happy reading!

Many companies have long made the commitment to be ethically responsible to their consumers, which in part explains their financial success. Some companies, like Aveda, and CampusBooks.com, are taking it one step further by pledging to be responsible to the environment as well as society by educating consumers and aiding them in making socially- and environmentally- responsible purchases. As part of its 2007 holiday collection, Aveda is introducing makeup gift sets in boxes wrapped in lokta paper. This type of paper is specially crafted for Aveda through its partnership with Nepalese women whose communities and families benefit from the income generated from the sustainable business.

Like Aveda, CampusBooks.com believes in holding ourselves responsible to more than just our direct customers.  we are responsible for trying to better their communities too. CampusBooks.com has just teamed up with Better World Books to aid in promoting literacy worldwide through the use of used books and textbooks. Now, when a seller looks up their book on CampusBooks.com and sees an unsatisfactory buyback price for his/her used textbook, he/she can donate it to Better World Books, which will either give the book directly to the communities that need it, or sell it to fund literacy programs and initiatives locally, nationally and worldwide. Donating books benefits communities in two ways: 1) books are given directly to communities who need them, and 2) unwanted books are recycled instead of being tossed away and ending up in a landfill. The only conditions for books to be accepted for donation are that they are in good enough shape to be used again and that they have a publishing date after 2001. CampusBooks.com and Better World Books will even pay for users to ship their books for donation, so donors don’t have to pay any money out-of-pocket! For more information on how to donate, please go to http://www.campusbooks.com/bookdonation.php.

Why Are Textbooks So Expensive?

CampusBooks.com is here to save you money on textbooks so we are doing a three-part blog on the real reasons why textbooks cost so much—from three different points of view: a college professor and textbook author, the textbook publishers and the college bookstores.  We hope this information will help you understand the reasons textbooks are so expensive.

From an Author’s Standpoint

Henry L. Roediger III, a professor of psychology at Washington University in St. Louis and a textbook author, wrote an article on high textbook prices for the Academic Observer.  According to Roediger, textbooks are more expensive because of the recent popularity of the used textbook market.  He cited the used textbook market as a problem not due to students selling to each other, but to the massive buying of textbooks by used book wholesalers who then ship the book to another campus where it will be used next year.  The textbook wholesalers, some of which own the bookstore, buy textbooks from students at a small fraction of the price that the students pay and then sell the books back to the next batch of students at an inflated “used book” price.  This cycle results in publishers and authors not getting fair payments for their work in producing the textbooks.  Roediger compared the practice to vendors who sell pirated music and do not pay royalties to record labels or artists.  The only difference, he pointed out, is that the used textbook industry is legal and music pirating is not.

Here is a concrete example that he provided:

His book, Experimental Psychology: Understanding Psychological Research, was published by Wadsworth Publishing Company. The bookstore pays the company $73.50 for the new book. The authors receive 15 percent royalties on the book, so the three authors split the $11 royalty, and the publisher gets the rest.   However, at the Washington University bookstore, the list price of the book is $99.75, a markup of $26.25 (or 35.7 percent).  The authors get $11.02 for their work whereas the bookstore makes $26.25 gross profit per book.

When a student sells his or her textbook at buyback, the bookstore buys it back at a greatly marked down price, somewhere between 25 and 50 percent. Let’s assume that Experimental Psychology is bought back for 40 percent of the new book price (which is a generous assumption). That buyback price would be $39.90. After buying it, the bookstore will mark it up dramatically and resell the book. Suppose the used book is sold by the store for $75, which sounds like a bargain relative to the new book price of $99.75.  The profit markup for the bookstore on this used book would be $35.10, which is even higher than the (still very large) profit made on the new book ($26.25). So on the second (and third and fourth, etc.) sales of the same book, the bookstore and used book company make large cumulative profits while the publishers and authors get no additional revenue.

According to Roediger, textbook publishers have little options when dealing with the loss in profits.  They are forced to raise the prices of textbooks in an attempt to recuperate their initial investment.  Publishers revise books often because they want to make sure book profits will accrue to the publisher and author, not the bookstores.

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Source:

Roediger III, H (January 2005). Why are textbooks so expensive. Observer, 18, Retrieved July 23, 2007, from http://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/getArticle.cfm?id=1712

Rival Bookstore Sues WVU Bookstore for $2 Million Monopoly

A bookstore that serves the students of West Virginia University (WVU) has sued the university and Barnes & Noble College Booksellers, Inc. for monopolizing the textbook sales market in the WVU area.

The Book Exchange filed the suit on June 8, claiming that WVU’s practice of withholding a portion of students’ financial aid money for use specifically at school bookstores limits the choices students have for purchasing cheap textbooks. The practice of withholding financial aid money began in August 2005, right before a lease contract between WVU stores and Barnes & Noble College Booksellers, Inc. was renewed for a second five-year term in 2006.

According to the lawsuit, WVU sent an email to its students on Dec. 13, 2005 informing them that “an amount up to $500 has been reserved on account at the bookstore.” Students that did not want the bookstore to take that money were to remove themselves from the program by Dec. 16. Students who did not remove themselves were unable to spend a portion of their financial aid money on textbooks from The Book Exchange or any other textbook-purchasing alternative.

In the lawsuit, The Book Exchange accuses WVU of violating West Virginia Code by redirecting students’ financial aid money to the campus bookstore and preventing them from obtaining the textbooks at lower-cost alternatives like The Book Exchange. The suit also alleges that the automatic withholding of funds was intended to monopolize the market of selling textbooks to financial aid students.

The Book Exchange is seeking more than $2 million dollars from the defendants for lost revenue and punitive damages.

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Source:

Bailey, Cara. “Bookstore sues WVU for monopoly, seeks $2 million.” The West Virginia Record 15 June 2007. 19 June 2007. http://www.wvrecord.com/news/196757-bookstore-sues-wvu-for-monopoly-seeks-2-million


Technology Costs Students, Then Saves Them

Technology has once again proven to be friend and foe. The advent of high-tech interactive learning materials has prompted its addition (along with a price increase) to college textbooks—without the consent of the average college student. On the other hand, new developments in technology are now allowing students to access e-books and other downloadable learning materials for only a fraction of the traditional textbook price, if not for free.

Critics of the textbook industry claim that the practice of bundling textbooks with special Web site access and interactive tools such as CDs and DVDs is just another excuse for raising textbook prices. The standardized bundles force students to buy bundled textbooks whether they want the interactive materials or not. Furthermore, when students go to sell the textbooks back at the end of the year, they are often either unable to do so, or have to settle for a lower buyback price because the interactive tools and Web site access can only be used once with the special code. Publishers argue that the textbook bundles are meant to enhance the learning experience by supplementing passive learning (reading) with active learning (interactive tools). Either way, bundled textbooks are here to stay and students have to pay for them.

For some college students anxious about paying skyrocketing prices for their textbooks, technology will also prove to be their saving grace. Ex-Microsoft executive Bruce Jacobsen has launched a new electronic textbook publishing house called Kinetic Books. An Introduction to Physics textbook for example, looks a lot like a regular textbook except that the chapters are enhanced with animation and videos that can demonstrate physics concepts like velocity and acceleration.

Teachers are also using technology to create a more interactive learning environment. Michigan State University biology professor Diane Ebert-May no longer uses textbooks in her classroom. She assigns an assortment of reading materials and articles to aid classroom instruction.

“Biology changes so rapidly that most of the readings in my class are not much older than 2004,” said Ebert-May. She does, however, keep some publishers’ complimentary copies of textbooks on hand in the classroom as reference materials.

CampusBooks.com is a leading supporter of technology that helps students save money on textbooks. We are proud to include e-book retailers in our list of bookstore partners that are displayed on price comparison pages. That way, when students are searching for and comparing prices on textbooks on our site, they will indeed get the lowest price possible—e-books included.

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Source:

Kingsbury, Alex. “Textbooks Enter the Digital Era.” U.S. News and World Report 08 OCT 2006 http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/articles/061008/16books.htm

Government Advisory Committee Reports on Making Textbooks More Affordable

The Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance (ACSFA) submitted a report to Congress on Friday that discussed their findings about the current state of textbook affordability. The one-year study was commissioned at the request of Congressmen Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) and David Wu (D-OR) in June 2006 to investigate ways to make textbooks more affordable for students. In the letter requesting the study, the Advisory Committee was asked to:

· Investigate further the problem of rising textbook prices.

· Determine the impact of rising textbook prices on students’ postsecondary education.

· Make recommendations to Congress, the Secretary, and other stakeholders on what can be done to make textbooks more affordable.[1]

The Advisory Committee determined that “all stakeholders—students, faculty, colleges, bookstores, and publishers as well—are victims of the failure of this market”[2]

The Committee found that all stakeholders had valid interests that needed to be protected when making textbooks affordable and so there is no reason to blame any one stakeholder. Instead, the main reason that textbooks are not affordable is “the underlying structural imperfection in the market for textbooks and learning materials”[3]—that is, the market is driven by supply instead of by demand. Faculty select the textbooks, the bookstores order them and students must pay for them. The end result is a market that is not driven by consumer demands, which ultimately results in a disregard for product price.

In keeping with its focus on solutions instead of blame, the ACSFA identified short-term solutions and a long-term solution to the textbook affordability problem. The eight short-term solutions are:

1. Strengthen the used textbook market

2. Utilize faculty textbook selection guidelines

3. Provide key information to students and parents

4. Increase library resources

5. Adopt alternatives that lower price

6. Implement a textbook rental program

7. Improve related financial aid policies

8. Utilize 21st century technology

 

The long-term solution proposed by the Advisory Committee is a national digital marketplace. In theory, the infrastructure of the marketplace would consist of a transaction and rights clearinghouse, numerous marketplace Web applications, and hosted infrastructure resources.[4] The California State University is currently doing innovative work in the area of building such a digital marketplace. The initiative began in 2003 as way to “increase student and faculty success by reducing expenses for educational content, hardware, and software.”[5]

The CSU Marketplace plans to serve the technological needs of students, faculty, and staff with both no-cost and fee-based educational content. The Advisory Committee hopes that “when fully developed, CSU’s statewide solution can be the first step toward a national digital marketplace for voluntary use by other states, colleges, faculty, and students.”[6]

CampusBooks.com is following these developments very closely and we’ve made digital textbooks available on our site. The future of the textbook market is fast heading in the direction of electronic textbooks, but in the meantime, CampusBooks.com is helping students save money on books by providing a robust marketplace to buy and sell textbooks quickly and inexpensively.

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References:

[1] Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, “Textbook Study Fact Sheet.” 2007. http://www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/acsfa/txtbkfactsht.pdf

[2-6] Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance , “Turn the Page: Making College Textbooks More Affordable, MAY 2007.” Textbook Cost Study. May 2007. http://www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/acsfa/turnthepage.pdf