For years, students have walked into the GW Bookstore and been faced with incredibly high textbook prices and service that was less than stellar, until this semester. But this year, students have several alternatives to the GW Bookstore, and Bookstore officials are not too happy about it.
A variety of online bookstores – amazon.com, varsitybooks.com, barnesandnoble.com and others – offer students the opportunity to order textbooks that are usually significantly cheaper than books at the campus bookstore.
However, the GW Bookstore has done a poor job handling the challenges to its monopoly on students’ money. The Student Association cannot advertise its Book Exchange as an event that offers books for sale, because Follett College Stores, the GW Bookstore’s parent company, has a contract with the University that makes it the exclusive bookseller on campus.
The founders of VarsityBooks, two GW Law School graduates, have also incurred the Bookstore’s wrath. The operators of the online bookstore say “University security” approached them last weekend at a table in front of Tower Records where they were advertising their service – on public property – and told them to leave.
The Bookstore has every right to try to hold onto its monopoly on students’ wallets, but perhaps in the future it can try less goonish methods. A little competition never hurt anyone – it’s what capitalism is all about.
Maybe Bookstore officials should read one of their over-priced economics textbooks for a quick lesson.