At the beginning of every semester, students search and fish for the best deals to get on textbooks, but it’s not just the students at PCC who are aiming to get the best deals for their money.
Posters can be found around the campus advertising textbooks for sale to be “cheaper than the bookstore.” There is also the bookstore alternative Bookmart across the street on Colorado Boulevard from the college.
According to Leslie Thompson, the manager and 17-year employee of the bookstore, states that while the textbooks available at the Bookstore are slightly expensive, the twenty five percent margin mark-up of textbooks is there to cover the cost of freight- shipping and overhead charges, including collecting and ordering inventory from faculty. “We work closely with faculty to get a correct count of textbooks we need to buy,” said Thompson. “It’s a lot of work putting together the list of textbooks we need to buy.”
The labor intensive work inputted into the Bookstore inventory is also covered in the twenty five percent margin mark-up of books.
Students go out of their way to search for the cheapest textbooks, be it e-book versions or Shatford Library.
Access Services Librarian Pearl Ly orders and receives the library’s textbooks. Thanks to the Student Services Fund administered by the Associated Students, the library applies for $20,000 annually to cover the cost of textbooks. “The average life of a textbook is two years at the library,” Ly said. While the library exclusively purchases books from the bookstore, it receives a twenty percent mark-down on book purchases. College faculty and staff textbook donations also help with the cost of textbooks.
While looking over 294 pages of textbook inventory, Ly explains that not every college has a textbook collection. Students should take advantage of the library’s abundant textbook resources, she said. Be it the e-book version available for check-out on the Shatford Library’s website, or requesting a Circulation Textbook Purchase Request form available at the Reference Desk for students who wish to request book purchases for the library.
Some students such as physics major Stephen Raynor recommend getting books from online websites such as amazon.com or chegg.com, where students can rent, sell, and buy books.
Ron Duarte, who is starting his tenth semester at PCC, recommends buying textbooks from older students, or looking for the much more affordable international editions of textbooks. “If I don’t need a textbook anymore, and I won’t get a lot of money for it, I might as well give it to another student.”
An international edition of a textbook according to textbooksrus.com, “has the same pagination and contents as the U.S. edition,” but for up to fifty percent cheaper, including shipping. Other websites, such as barnesandnoble.com and collegebookrenter.com offer services such as renting, buying, and selling used books.
Thompson explained that textbook publishers only allow access to U.S. edition textbooks by the bookstore. Faculty must officially adopt a textbook version for the bookstore to order it.
Other options of buying textbooks at a more affordable price are available and used, such as buying wholesale.
“People are always looking for an alternative,” Thompson said, but the bookstore “only exists to serve the students.”