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Save time and money online

It may only be June, but local bookstores are already preparing for fall semester and offering textbook incentives to students.

The University Bookstore is offering a five percent discount to students who pre-order their books (new or used) online. Students can pick up their books in the Union Multipurpose Room August 20 through August 31 and avoid shipping and handling costs, or they can have the books delivered to their homes.

Steven Overholt, course materials manager at the Bookstore, said the discount was first offered in May and will continue to be offered ‘at least through the beginning of the fall term.’ He said students won’t be charged until their orders are processed in August, and the online return policy is the same as the in-store policy; the last day students have to return their books is August 31.

Overholt said Bookstore staff will be available during freshman orientation to help new students learn how to order their textbooks online.

‘They have enough new things to deal with as a freshman,’ he said. ‘We will take care of everything for them.’

The Bookstore also plans to introduce a new price match program this fall.

‘We will match local brick and mortar bookstores in town,’ Overholt said. ‘If you buy [a book] here and find it in town cheaper we will … give you 125 percent of the difference.’

Overholt said if students find the same books at lower prices in town, they can fill out a form verifying that the books are the same but priced differently. He said the Bookstore is asking for about 72 hours to process the form, and if the information is accurate students can receive the price difference, plus 25 percent more, in cash.

The Bookstore is also offering rental textbooks for certain classes, which students can rent at 40 percent of new book prices. Rental textbooks became available in spring 2008, and Overholt said the Bookstore is the first in Ohio to offer them.

‘The whole idea is to keep the cost down for the student,’ Overholt said, explaining that textbooks must be reasonably priced and commited to by faculty members for at least four semesters in order to become rentals.

Overholt said students can use the rental books like they own them, and they won’t be further charged unless they fail to turn in the books or return them in an unusable condition. In those cases, students are responsible for recompensating the Bookstore.

Overholt said very few students have been billed for nonreturned books.

‘We’ll work with [students],’ he said. ‘If they can get us a replacement book that’s reasonable they can do it that way … worst case scenario, they’ve got to buy a new one.’

Bob Gilreath, a senior and student manager of textbook online services at the Bookstore, said he rented a biology book through the Bookstore and saved money. He paid $71.50 for his Biology 205 textbook, which cost $178.70 new.

Gilreath said it would save students a lot of money if more professors agreed to offer their textbooks as rental texts.’ ‘ ‘

Digital textbooks, called eBooks, are also sold at the Bookstore. According to the Bookstore Web site, ‘Substantial savings can be realized off the new book price when choosing an eBook over a new book, the amount varies by publisher. There is no buyback option on an eBook.’

Other area bookstores are working to provide students with savings as well.

The Student Book Exchange on East Wooster Street is still offering as many used books as it can, according to Manager Kent Kokomoor.

‘Probably 99 percent of the time on used books we’re going to be cheaper,’ Kokomoor said, referring to the University Bookstore and Beat the Bookstore, which is also located on East Wooster.

Students wishing to purchase books from SBX can do so in the store, and they can also reserve texts online for store pick-up. Kokomoor said SBX has a guaranteed buyback program, and the store doesn’t sell textbooks online because used book prices can fluctuate.

SBX is holding a drawing which freshmen can enter for a chance to win free textbooks for spring 2010. Kokomoor said freshmen who come in to the store can fill out a paper to enter. The winner will be selected August 1.

Beat the Bookstore’s ‘Book Master’ Steve Smith said the store pays students in cash for their textbooks and also offers students a buyback incentive of in-store credit of 125 percent.

Smith said Beat the Bookstore sells old editions for low prices, and he recommended that students check with their professors to see if they can use old editions of the recommended texts.

‘Usually, the books are pretty much the same edition to edition,’ Smith said.

Smith said the store is working on a Web site and that students can e-mail the store with their book requests.

‘We do special-order books, and we don’t charge extra for that,’ he said, explaining that students can get new books in two days and used copies in seven to ten days, with shipping and handling already included in the shelf price. He said students can get new books the next day for about $5 extra.’

Overholt and Kokomoor recommended that students order or reserve their textbooks online as soon as possible to ensure they can get used copies.

Smith said ‘saavy students’ are in Beat the Bookstore a week or two before the semester starts.

‘Go ahead and shop around, because prices do vary between all three stores,’ Kokomoor said.

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