If you have plans to study this semester, you are going to need books.
But before you trudge over to the nearest bookstore and concede upwards of $500, take a look at your options.
The most well-known outlet is the one that dwells on the bottom floor of the Student Center. Temple’s bookstore is stacked with new and used books, rife with clothes etched with the Temple logo, rich in various merchandise and full of suckers. Although having the campus’s widest selection of books at about 105,000, according to employee Doug Frazer, it charges students prices that belong in the stratosphere.
Ask most upperclassmen of their experience shopping at Temple’s bookstore and you are likely to hear this dirge: I paid more than $100 for a book that didn’t cost the life of a small tree and received less than $15 when selling it back.
One reason for the exorbitant prices is the supplement CDs that come attached to many books. Your professor may be like many and not require the use of the CD, in which case you are best going with a used book, usually more than 20 percent cheaper than retail value.
The cheapest place to buy books – new or used – is the one several blocks south of campus. Zavelle Bookstore, located at 1520 N. Broad St., boasts more than 40,000 books, most of them being used. Used books are infamous for being a bit more battered, with some edges warped and some pages tattered.
Despite all this, the books are still readable and if you search intently, you are likely to find ones highlighted with diligence and more importantly, for your convenience.
Owner of the 70-year-old establishment, Angelo Bergonzi, said the store’s success is thanks to the good rapport it has established with students.
“Some books we like to make a statement; we may take 75 percent off,” he said. “What’s the big deal? Let the kids have it.”
When it comes to buying back books toward the end of the semester, Bergonzi said he would rather have students make the statement.
“I want the students to say ‘I went to Zavelle and they gave me $45 for the book and the other bookstore gave us $30 and I’m going to go back and give him the money back,'” he said. “Take the money. Come back and give me the money. It’s an exchange.”
Although bookstores are constantly restocking, Bergonzi said used books generally sell out within the first three weeks.
The alternative to shopping at bookstores is shopping online, which could land you the biggest bargain. Half.com is often true to its name, selling books at fractions of the original cost. If the material taught in a course holds up well against time, and if the professor doesn’t assign heavily from the book, then you may be able to buy a previous edition without compromising much besides the money you’ll be saving.
Steve Wood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.