Local book stores around East Carolina University’s campus, Dowdy Student Stores and University Book Exchange (U.B.E.) are preparing for the fall 2019 semester by offering competitively priced textbook rentals and e-textbooks for students.
Bryan Tuten, director of Dowdy Student Stores located in ECU’s Main Campus Student Center (MCSC), said Dowdy is offering textbook options such as rentals and digital/e-books to students this year to make the store more competitive with online pricing.
“Bob (Walker) is finalizing some great textbook options for our customers that include renting and digital/e-books that make us more competitive with the Amazons and Cheggs of the world,” Tuten said.
Walker, associate director for Dowdy Student Stores, said Dowdy has dramatically increased the number of rental titles offered to students this year. He said about 25 to 30 percent of titles listed for the fall semester will be rentable.
Dowdy is able to offer lower pricing on rentals this year due to “increased incentives from distributors and wholesalers in the marketplace,” according to Walker. He said with this pricing, Dowdy was able to save students up to about 47 percent for rentals.
Walker said Dowdy recently partnered with a company named VitalSource, which offers highly discounted E-textbooks, over the summer semesters and will continue to use the company this year to offer e-textbooks to students.
Books available in this e-textbook format will only be offered in-store and will have a separate SKU card students can take to the register. A SKU card resembles a barcode and is scanned by the cashier.
The access code for the e-textbook will be located on the receipt so students can access the book through VitalSource’s website, according to Walker. He said pricing will be determined based on catalog e-book prices from VitalSource.
Walker said there are up to three different durations of time students can rent books through VitalSource which will affect the price, unlimited access which will be a higher price, a semester-long rental period which will last 120 days before the access code expires, or a one or two year rental period.
Students who used the e-books so far have given positive feedback, according to Walker. He said students have also liked the features available with the e-books.
“It’s brand new, we tested it over the summer, it worked great and most students love it,” Walker said. “They’re actually able to download, they’re not having to work online, they can highlight and do a lot of fun things that most good e-readers do.”
Walker said students can access the e-books on up to five devices and print about 20 percent of the work if desired.
Walker said about half of the titles offered in Dowdy will be available through VitalSource in this e-book format for students.
Tony Parker, textbook manager at U.B.E located in uptown Greenville on Cotanche Street, said the book store is offering competitive prices this year as well to compete with online pricing, making it even more important for people to shop locally.
“Because we’re an independent bookstore, we have to work really hard to make sure our prices are low,” Parker said. “As far as people buying books online we always tell them the first year or two that’s not the best idea, they want to buy locally because we are integrated with the university and we know our professors.”
Parker said U.B.E has taken into account online textbook prices from Amazon, Chegg and other sources and will beat those prices in most cases. He said he recommends students come to U.B.E. and the staff will help to deconstruct large textbook packages required by professors.
About 90 percent of U.B.E.’s textbooks are rentals, according to Parker. He said U.B.E. also offers e-books in addition to textbook rentals. Parker said the best option for students is to come by and see U.B.E.’s selection and work with an employee to answer any questions.