The Bookie offers book rentals at cheap rates as an alternative for buying and selling textbooks.
The five bookstores of The Bookie, along with online orders, generate about $16 million in sales annually, and about 55 percent of that total revenue comes from textbook sales. The Bookie is owned by the non-profit organization WSU Student Book Corporation (SBC) and is managed by Barnes and Noble, senior SBC board member Barry Johnston said. All profit from sales are given back to the students in the form of a dividend, he said. “One of the biggest dividends the corporation creates is the discount on the (textbooks) it sells,” Johnston said. The Bookie General Manager Leslie Martin said the discount is already included on the price tag listed on the shelves.
Johnston gave the example of a textbook that costs $100 to buy from the publisher. He explained that the $100 book has a 25 percent markup that covers the costs of salaries, wages, benefits, shipping and other operating expenses of The Bookie. That 25 percent markup changes the price of the book from $100 to $125. That amount is considered to be the break-even for the corporation to pay necessary costs, he said.
From there, the discount from the dividend cuts the price by ten percent, so the price on the shelf reads $112.50, Johnston said.
The student discount on textbooks was a decision made by the board of the SBC, and in 2006 it was increased from 8 percent, he said.
“The cheapest way (to buy textbooks) is buy used and sell used,” Johnston said. “But you can’t always do that because it depends on what (textbooks) the faculty member determines for their course and curriculum.” He said he understands students often look to other places, such as Amazon.com, to try and find better prices on textbooks.
Patrick Heneghen, student chair of the SBC board, said students should consider other factors when buying textbooks in places other than The Bookie, such as convenience, return policy and the price of shipping, as well as making sure the book matches class materials.
Heneghen said it was one of the board’s decisions last year to introduce the concept of textbook rentals to The Bookie.
Johnston explained that renting textbooks costs students half the price of a new textbook.
The idea of renting textbooks started at The Bookie last fall and will continue to grow more popular, Martin said. She said right now they offer about 700 textbooks for rental out of about 4,000 titles.
“Rentals are driven by the publishers,” Martin said. “The majority of it is completely out of our control. Either the publisher decides what they are going to allow to be printed, to be rented or to be e-booked, and then it is up to the professor whether it is going to be used again.” When rental books come in, they are considered used books and The Bookie tries to rent all new books. The price is the same, and they are able to sell more used books than new ones, Martin said.
“If you look at the breakdown, it is actually cheaper to buy the book used and sell it back (at the end of the semester),” Johnston said. “But what is difficult in that regard is that if the book is not going to be used that second semester then you can’t sell it back, that is when the rentals are a really nice option that we provide for students.”