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March 11, 2010 Volume 31, No. 23

University Bookstore is tops nationally in used textbook sales

Affordable options

Rental textbook program is now an option at Mizzou

When it comes to reducing the cost of education, University Bookstore is No. 1. The operation rose to national prominence recently for its high-sales volume of used textbooks, beating out the likes of UCLA, University of Minnesota, and Texas and Arizona State universities.

 “We’ve been in the top 10 nationally for the past decade, but now to be No. 1 is really great,“ says Michelle Froese, the bookstore’s public relations manager. “This is a testament to how hard the bookstore textbook department works to find affordable course materials.”

The bookstore’s position is determined by The Large Stores Group, a professional organization affiliated with the National Association of College Stores. Among the requirements for membership, a campus bookstore has to be a full-service academically oriented store that serves a four-year university and has at least $9 million in annual sales revenue, Froese says. Currently, there are 86 stores that meet these requirements.

Students shopping at University Bookstore for their classroom needs have more than just used textbooks from which to choose. They can purchase new textbooks as well as digital books, and starting this semester, they can rent textbooks.

Froese says the bookstore had conducted a rental textbook program at the Rolla campus that was successful for a couple of classes. At MU, however, instead of getting departments to commit to using the same textbook for two to three years, the bookstore selected about 50 titles that, based on sales history, had a high probability of being used again. “They tend to be for large enrollment classes where they are used consecutively,” Froese says. “It took a lot of work to identify the titles.”  

This doesn’t mean the same title will be a rental option next semester. The textbook department will evaluate what is adopted or required by faculty next year and look at the sales history of that book to see if it is eligible for rental.

So far, the bookstore has recorded 4,886 rentals this semester. Froese says rental prices are going to be between 35 percent and 46 percent less than the new price. Students have to return the books at the end of the semester or they will be charged the full amount.

“At the end of the semester, we will see how this works,” Froese says. “I think it is going to gain some momentum when we have an opportunity to talk about it at Summer Welcome. Parents will see the value of this and that we are trying to provide as many options as possible.”

The deadline for filing textbook orders is rapidly approaching. Faculty who are teaching summer session courses have until March 31, and orders for fall semester courses are due April 15. “These are not arbitrary dates,” Froese says. The bookstore would rather buy back books from students than pay a wholesaler and the only way they can do that is if the orders are in before students leave at the end of the semester. “It takes a long time to source used textbooks, and we need the time to do it,” Froese says.

She says the textbook department’s staff is available to help provide information when faculty members are selecting course materials. “We are always going to try to source used books,” she says. “If there is a digital version available, we will try to carry that as well as the traditional book.”

With questions about the options or for help with researching the choices, faculty can call 882-7387.