High prices and bookstores go hand in hand, almost like students and classes. It’s a fact of life for most college students. Expensive textbooks and low buy-back values might be common for many students, but not for the thrifty. The high prices of books often thrust students online to popular Web sites like Amazon.com or Half.com, but some favor the directness – and often lower prices – of Web sites that offer student-to-student exchanging.
Book purchasing Web sites used within the Temple community include Stuzo.com, StudentforStudent.com, Facebook.com groups and listings on LiveJournal.com blogs.
Wherever and whenever money is exchanged, however, problems and wrongful dealings may occur. Students who choose to bypass local bookstores for person-to-person Web sites face challenges of their own. Many of these challenges are not an issue for students who shop at the local bookstores on and surrounding campus.
“We, personally, at the bookstore make sure we get the edition that the teacher requests,” said Brooke Garceau, an assistant manager at Temple Bookstore. “We know we are only carrying the correct edition and we’re not going to sell you something that’s wrong. And if there is something that’s wrong, we’re going to get it fixed for you.”
Garceau explained that students could also buy books from the Temple Bookstore online at WhyWaitForBooks.com. Angelo Berganozi, the owner of Zavelle Bookstore also pointed out the risks to students who buy books from online vendors.
“I don’t think they’re getting the bargain that they think they’re getting and I think the problems are delivery and returns,” Berganozi said. “They get the wrong editions of the book and they can’t return it or whatever the case may be. I see instances where they come with three different books and they got them online
and they were all wrong. That happens a lot. So it’s not always the best deal online.”
Senior marketing major Drew Armstrong has his own reasons for avoiding student-to-student transactions. “I buy from the [Temple] Bookstore because I don’t like any further complications from buying from students or online.”
Among students who often buy books from others online, late orders and cancellations are more than common. Some students don’t get their books in time and buy them again at the bookstore. Others buy on smaller sites such as Stuzo.com, only to have a seller cancel or fail to ship an order. Some of those students turn to the larger sites like Half.com in order to complete their transactions. The students who choose to buy books from larger, more popular vendors are not always immune to the problems faced by student-to-student exchanges.
“I got [a book] off Half.com and it probably took maybe three or four weeks to get it, maybe even months,” said sophomore civil engineering major Leah Ard. “We were using the book in class and I didn’t have it. I e-mailed the kid a couple times and he finally got it out. I think he was just being lazy, but I really couldn’t afford that.”
For some, transactions are not as risky with online student-to-student vendors. Stuzo offers the option to mail books or meet in person.
Even though Stuzo primarily bases its user transactions on an honor system, a service
team will step in to resolve user complaints if needed.
“Some sellers back out of transactions
because they no longer have their books available for sale,” Stuzo stated via e-mail. “We have had a few sellers neglect to remove inventory off of Stuzo in a timely manner. This is the most common issue that we have seen to date.”
Stuzo will go as far as to investigate and reimburse both sides of a bad transaction.
In one instance Stuzo refunded a buyer for a book that was never received and paid the same seller who claimed that the book was shipped. Sellers who fail to deliver are penalized and potential buyers can view a status system that notes when a seller has backed out of a deal.
At the very least, Stuzo ensures that users have a way to recover their money, something that isn’t always guaranteed by other student-to-student vendors. Many students express satisfaction when using Stuzo (or other online sites) because it enables them to buy and sell books at good prices. Senior art history major Melissa Crofford enjoys using Stuzo because of the value she receives for her books.
“I have made much more money through Stuzo than I ever would selling back my books at the [Temple] Bookstore,” Crofford said.
Angela Moseley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.