With the increase of startup textbook exchange companies and a movement towards online textbook purchases, the NYU Bookstore has seen a decrease in sales in the past four years.
College students often try to save money when purchasing textbooks by using sellers other than the school bookstore. The common conception is that buying textbooks in the bookstore is more expensive than purchasing them online.
“I use Amazon. If I can’t find it there, I’ll try eBay or basically any other website before ultimately resorting to the NYU bookstore,” said LSP freshman Gabriella Diez.
“Why pay full price for a new book when you can pay a lot less for a used one that is still good quality?” Diez added.
Factors such as students selling books to each other or buying them at other bookstores in the city also contribute to less textbook sales at the bookstore.
“Textbook sales peaked in about 2008 and have been decreasing about three to five percent each year,” a NYU bookstore representative said. “Reasons are the proliferation of peer-to-peer purchases, lower prices on digital and custom materials and the explosion of textbook rentals.”
The bookstore provides an online price comparison option where students can easily check their textbook prices at the bookstore, the warehouse and online — minus the cost of shipping. Most books appear to be cheaper online; however, when the price of shipping is added, some books can be bought or rented for less at the bookstore.
Still, CAS sophomore Amber Poon said sometimes students can avoid shipping fees.
“As a student, you can get one year of Amazon Prime for free two-day shipping and renting textbooks,” she said.
An advantage of buying books at the bookstore is that there is no wait.
“I would usually wait for my syllabus first … and if the bookstore textbooks aren’t too exp-ensive then I would just buy it from the bookstore,” said LSP freshman Miranda Tan.
Other universities have seen the same trend in textbook sales.
“I got [my textbooks] from Abe Books, and it was a lot cheaper than in the bookstore,” said University of Miami freshman Sabrina Carro. “There is also a Facebook group for Miami students to sell books. That is generally the popular choice.”
LSP professor Mary Roma recognizes the benefits of trading and renting textbooks, but she also has a sentimental feeling toward owning college textbooks.
“I still own the books I had to buy for my college courses, and they are the only ones I would never sell or get rid of,” Roma said. “They serve as a record of my experience in my classes as a student.”
A version of this story appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 5 print edition. Su Sie Park is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org