Despite cheaper alternatives, campus bookstores busy

By Paul Biasco

The prices of tuition, gas and food have gone up and the price of textbooks continues to rise. But despite the rates, students are still paying plenty for textbooks from on-campus bookstores.

For most students, paying the expensive price for books for just one semester can range anywhere from $200-$700 if buying from the on-campus bookstores.

But with so many avenues on the Internet to purchase both new and used books, that cost could literally be cut in half depending on how new the edition is on the book needed. The older the edition is, the more likely a seller online will be selling it for a very cheap price.

Microeconomics in Context for Economics 102 can be found used on Amazon.com for $35, compared to $89.75 used at the Illini Union Bookstore.

Book stores on the University campus have not been affected much by the availability of the cheaper online options on most books, said both Jon Tichenor, manager of T.I.S. College Bookstore, and Brad Bridges, manager of the Illini Union Bookstore.

“(Book sales) are still going strong,” Tichenor said. “We understand students look online for cheaper alternatives. We can compete with online retailers really well by selling used books on Amazon.com.”

Another major problem in the textbook industry is rising book prices from the publishers, said Tichenor. Book prices have been on the rise for stores too each semester. Some increases have been due to inflation and rises in fuel costs for shipping, he added.

So why aren’t students buying their books online while textbook prices still continue to rise in the stores?

Some of their reasons range from the ease of walking into the store and having the books organized by class; others said that price didn’t matter because parents were going to pay for the books anyway. Some students were skeptical of the online book stores possibly sending the wrong book.

“I would rather do it at the bookstore where I know I get the right book,” said Elizabeth Aranha, sophomore in LAS, who bought her books at T.I.S. Aranha said she doesn’t trust online bookstores because she tried to buy a book online once and received the wrong book in the mail.

Alex Klyczek, freshman in AHS, bought his books on campus because of the ease of purchasing them all in one store, but said he would consider buying them online next year.

“I think online would be a lot easier,” Klyczek said.

Another viable alternative for students is the University libraries, especially for books which are only needed for a short time period during classes. Almost all books that are borrowed from the library can be renewed throughout the semester either over the phone or online. So, if a student rents a book at the start of the semester, they could theoretically keep it for the entire semester.

“A lot of people would buy them online if they knew about it,” said Ryan Ehlke, freshman in LAS, who said he bought his books at the Illini Union Bookstore because it was the closest to his dorm.