EXPOSED: The Bookstore and its textbooks

In an institution perpetuated by goodwill and wholesomeness, sometimes the BYU Bookstore is cast in a negative light; or rather, an overpriced, money-hungry light.  It's okay, we know you've thought it before, "Why is the bookstore so expensive?"  "How did I  just spend $400 on texbooks?"  "I could get this cheaper on Amazon/some shady website with no return policy."  Reputations are earned, and those of university bookstores usually fall under the "less-than-loved" category.

That's the way things are and while everyone is entitled to an opinion, there are a few misconceptions out there, particularly regarding...


In a recent sit-down with our textbook manager, some of those textbook-related issues, the ones that have students picketing and hate-blogging, were addressed. 

Falsehood #1:  The Bookstore marks up textbooks and makes an obscene profit on poor, vulnerable students.  It should be noted by anyone under the aforementioned impression, only 5% of textbook sales revenue remains after paying expenses, making it one of the most thinly margined departments in the store (read: We make hardly any money on textbooks. It's true).  A nice example: if the Bookstore pays $75 for a textbook from the publisher, we sell it for $100. Of that 25% mark-up, 20% is spent simply getting it to the students’ hands.  What's left, %5, is the amount that the university receives.  In other words, five dollars. 

Falsehood #2: The Bookstore's prices are a total rip-off, just compare them to Amazon's. Something important to remember when comparing used book prices, like those on Amazon, it's different than comparing two competing stores.  Think of used Amazon prices as a "garage sale" price, so to speak.  It's a peer-to-peer price and transaction, not the same as buying it from a store. Naturally, these used prices are often much cheaper than the Bookstore's, but if you keep in mind that distinction, the discrepancy in price makes sense. 

Falsehood #3: The Bookstore is all about money. Perhaps the biggest misconception of them all.  The money the Bookstore makes is used to cover costs and the profit remaining goes back to the University.  Essentially, money spent at the Bookstore benefits students.  The Bookstore still has the same intent it did when it opened in 1906: to provide students with all of their academic needs.  In fact, we've even taken measures to ensure all of your textbook options are available for you.  If you use MyBooklist, you'll find all the textbooks needed for your courses, as well as alternative prices and options listed, including Amazon's.
Textbooks are expensive, alarmingly so, but in a lot of ways, they really are an investment in your education and your future.  Those steep prices hurt now, but they'll pay off later.  

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1 comment:

  1. I'm not hating the bookstore. I do think that more people should by used and online because it is cheaper. I wonder if there is still a place for bookstores in the wired age.