SA utilizes online bookstore

To make the hunt for cheap textbooks easier, the Student Association announced last week they will partner with, a Web site that compiles and compares textbook prices from the GW bookstore with various Internet booksellers.

While legal issues raised by the University stalled the project’s progress in December, it was launched in time for students to purchase their textbooks for the spring semester.

Dan Curran, the SA’s vice president for undergraduate student policy, spearheaded the initiative and said he hopes a partnership would make it easier for GW students to find their course materials at cheaper prices.

“We wanted to find a cheaper place for students to get textbooks, because in a time of economic uncertainty, mass layoffs and rising prices, students and their families can use all the help they can get to make a college education as affordable as possible,” Curran said.

Curran said the project was stalled last semester after Nancy Haaga, GW’s managing director of campus and support services, questioned the legality of such a partnership.

Curran said the main concern Haaga had was with the fact that the partnership would be financially mutually beneficial.

“Mrs. Haaga’s concerns seemed to center around the fact that the SA will get back 10 percent of the proceeds from the book sales, money we were going to give right back to students via the co-sponsorship fund,” Curran said.

Haaga also told Curran that she was also concerned that BrunoBooks gathers textbook information from the GW Bookstore’s Web site, which could pose legal problems, Curran said.

Despite Haaga’s concerns, Curran said the SA decided to go ahead with the partnership. In an e-mail, Haaga confirmed that she had communicated with the SA, but did not elaborate on her concerns.

Curran said if the legal issues were brought up again in the future, the SA would forego the 10 percent kickback of the Web site’s profits in order to make the partnership work.

Elio DiStaola, director of public and campus relations for Follett, the bookstore’s supplier, said he welcomes the competition from BrunoBooks.

“Our industry, along with much of the retail world, is experiencing increases in competition,” DiStaola said. “The Internet enables quick and easy shopping, the chief reason we have both a physical and a cyber presence for the bookstore. We welcome this competition, because it is not only good for students, but keeps us sharp in the products and services we provide.”

Emily Cahn contributed to this report.

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