Rental sales increase at GW bookstore

Correction Appended

The GW bookstore saw a 5 percent jump in rental sales this year, even as it continues to compete with cheaper online sellers.

Store manager Bob Blake called the rental program “a huge success,” comprising 28 percent of total textbook transactions.

Textbook purchases and rentals make up the bulk of the store’s sales, while e-book sales have made up between 1 and 2 percent of all sales since the bookstore began tracking digital sales last spring, Blake said.

The store’s book rentals have fluctuated over the past several years. In fall 2011, the bookstore projected an increase in sales after rental purchases during move-in weekend came in at almost 5,000 rentals.

Sales peaked in fall 2010, when 11,000 books were rented during one semester.

Each rental is sold to GW at 50 percent off the list price, allowing GW to rent the books out at about 25 percent off.

Blake declined to provide the bookstore’s total sales numbers. He said while some students opt for online retailers, the bookstore remains the most convenient because of its on-campus location, easy return policy and textbook sorting by course number and section.

“Students are savvy. There are different outlets for all textbooks. But again, we hone in on the fact that we provide the most options,” Blake said. “We provide the fact that it’s the right book at the right time at the right price, according to our pricing matrices.”

And some sites, like SlugBooks.com compare university bookstores’ selling and rental prices with the same textbooks on Amazon.com, Chegg.com and BookRenter.com.

Online sellers can typically sell books for cheaper. A textbook for an introduction to psychology course costs $197.25 for a new book and $148.00 for a used book, though the same textbook costs $75.50 on eBay and $42.37 on AbeBooks.com, according to a Hatchet review.

Senior Wyndham Ferris said he only goes to the bookstore when he’s down to the wire.

“[I go if] I’m pressed for time and I don’t [have] my stuff together, but normally I get the bulk of my books online for the cheapest I can get them,” Ferris said.

Sophomore Rachel Méndez, a criminal justice major, said websites like Amazon, which provide free shipping, negate the convenience of the GW bookstore.

“I never buy books from the bookstore. My chemistry lab book, which is literally a notebook of worksheets, was $85. Ridiculous. The prices at the bookstore are the antithesis of fair,” Méndez said.

This article was updated March 2, 2013 to reflect the following:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the GW bookstore saw a 5 percent slump in rental sales. It actually saw a 5 percent rise. Rentals during the spring of 2013 constituted 28 percent of total sales. Manager of the Store Bob Blake also did not infer that the store turns a profit. We regret these errors.

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