Book Sellers Battle for Student Loyalty

Janelle Taylor, Staff Writer

The East Texas Bookstore and the Texas A&M University – Commerce bookstore’s sales revenues are doing well despite the highly competitive book industry and personal preference of college students.

Until the Internet came along, college students bought textbooks from a campus bookstore.  With the invention of websites and the e-book, college campuses have expanded their sales strategy.

“I check the prices for my books at Amazon, Chegg, Ebay and the campus bookstore.  I look for the best price and if I rent or buy a used book I look for the best quality of book,” freshman Aaron Willford said.

The National Association of College Stores says 87 percent of students feel the price of the book is important. Student’s options are vastly significant with online bookstores, college bookstores and major chain bookstores all vying to retain and lure new customer sales.

The power is in the student’s hands, but the college bookstores have some extra benefits other bookstores do not.   The campus bookstore and East Texas bookstore offer students an emergency book credit for those waiting for their financial aid disbursements to arrive.  In addition, veterans are able to charge their books to the university and the university bills Veterans Affairs.  Disabled students receive the same opportunity to charge their books as well.

Manager of the campus bookstore and the East Texas bookstore Lisa Richards said, “I witnessed the decline in textbooks sales and saw an increase in internet, e-book and rental sales.”

Despite the highly competitive book business, the East Texas Bookstore is doing well with sales.  There are two locations, but both are together considered one store.  The off-campus site does a majority of the Internet sales because they have more storage space and the on-campus store offers more rentals and onsite textbook sales.

What do students prefer, e-books or textbooks?

“I prefer textbooks because I grew up using them, but since I am on my computer all the time I may switch to e-books,” Williford said.

Senior liberal studies major Roni Wade said, “I’m old school because I prefer physical textbooks.  E-books are convenient but I have a photographic memory so I tend to remember where something is located on a page, and it’s difficult to do that with e-books.  And I like glossaries.”

Concerning the future of college bookstores, Richards said, “There will always be a bookstore.  Someone will always want a regular book but the store may look different.  It may not carry as many books and have more online sales.”