East Carolina University students return to school to face the semester gamble of purchasing textbooks.
Charles Moore, one of two textbook managers at U.B.E., said he has worked at the store for more than 20 years. He said book prices and tuition prices have outpaced inflation during his time at U.B.E. and said he understands student frustration.
“Pricing has changed dramatically over the last 20 years and we are aware of that,” Moore said. “Most of the time people are extremely frustrated if they spent $100 on a book and it’s not worth anything at the end of the semester.”
Moore said the buy-back value of a textbook is mostly based upon whether or not it will be used by professors in the following semester.
“Ask if we think the book is going to be used again and we’ll tell you what we think. If we can save you money, we’re going to and that’s the only reason my business is still here,” Moore said.
If the textbook a student is selling is not going to be used in the following semester, U.B.E. will pay the student the wholesale price of that textbook, according to Moore.
Moore said his store does business with three different wholesalers and will give students the highest offer out of the three.
“We pay you what they’re going to pay us. We regard that as an opportunity to create good will for our customers. It’s not a profit center for us,” Moore added.
If the textbook a student is selling is going to be used in the following semester, Moore recommends selling the textbook at the end of the semester during a period he called “‘retail buyback.”
“For example, I might know I need 100 copies of the Health 1000 textbook. I’ll know how many I have in stock and that will tell me how many I need to buy. That is what we call the retail buyback period,” Moore said.
During this period, which typically starts two weeks before reading day, Moore said students will generally receive half of the textbook’s value.
Moore recommends students purchase used books that will be used in the following semester and sell the textbook during the retail buyback period.
“For example, the new textbook is $100, the used price would generally be $75, and the retail buyback would be $50 dollars. That means your overall investment is $25, and even rental prices seldom drop down to $25,” said Moore.
Bryan Tuten, director of Dowdy Student Stores, said his store purchases textbooks year round but advises students to sell right before the end of the semester.
Similar to U.B.E., Tuten said the value of textbooks will rise if they are going to be used by professors in the following semester.
Dowdy provides students the option to sell their textbooks online, which could be very beneficial for distance education students, explained Tuten.
“We also have a tool on our website that students can use to sell their textbooks. The student will type in the book’s ISBN number and our whole-sale partner will give them a price,” Tuten said.
Tuten said students should be mindful of Dowdy’s return policy, and said it is there only to help students.
“Students have 10 days from the first day of classes, and 30 days from the first day of class if a student dropped a class and can show proof, to return their textbooks,” Tuten explained.
Tuten advises that students only buy required materials for class and to wait to buy optional materials when instructed by the professor.
“Sometimes people buy their entire textbook list, including the optionals or recommended, and it will save you money to just get the required ones. Of course, the store makes more money when you buy everything on the list, but I’ve been a student myself and I know how important it is to save money” Tuten said.
Xavier Williams, a senior majoring in business management, said he waits until after the first week of classes to get his textbooks.
Williams said he used to purchase his textbooks from the Dowdy Student Store and U.B.E. but has rented his textbooks from Amazon his last couple of semesters.
“I was spending like almost $300 dollars every semester and it just wasn’t even worth it. Especially if I hardly even opened the book,” Williams said.
When he does purchase a new textbook, Williams likes to go to U.B.E. because he said they typically give him more money back than other stores.
Williams added that his books have been turned away on multiple occasions because of the textbook version being outdated by a new one.
“I just feel like they’re a waste of money that I could be using somewhere else like groceries. You’re already paying so much for tuition and class materials like calculators, so when you have to buy a textbook or access code on top of that it’s just ridiculous,” Williams said.