As the end of the semester approaches, the need to sell back textbooks is a continuous effort for students. Increasing the amount of money given to students for used textbooks is among the positive changes the Main Campus bookstore is trying to make.
Jim Hanley, the manager of Temple’s bookstore, said a multi-pronged approach is underway to save students more money, decrease wait times and provide for the university’s needs.
“My goal is to service the Temple community at large, which means students, faculty and administration, in the best possible way,” Hanley said.
Hanley said the biggest factor that determines if the bookstore will buy back students’ books is if the faculty provides next semester’s book orders on time. Orders submitted on time will determine which books will be purchased back at a higher price.
If the bookstore knows a professor will use a particular book in the upcoming semester, it will buy back the number of used books to match the next course’s student enrollment figures at 50 cents on the dollar. When the bookstore is unsure if a book will be reused for a course, it purchases the book back from students at a lower wholesale price. That price is also given to sellers when the amount of books being returned exceeds a course’s enrollment figures for the following semester.
Currently, there is no mandated deadline for professors to submit their book orders. Though the bookstore asks faculty to turn in its orders by March, Hanley said the bookstore only has approximately 22 percent of the 6,000 to 7,000 titles needed for the Fall 2008 semester.
“It’s a help-you-help-me relationship. You give me the order, I’ll make sure it’s on the shelf,” Hanley said about faculty members.
Although the overall response rate has improved from previous semesters, Hanley said the bookstore is trying to continue to spread the word about the importance of timely faculty book orders.
One way the bookstore works to make the textbook buying and selling processes easier is through advisory committee meetings every semester.
Sophomore advertising management major Renee Gordon serves as the student-representative for the committee. She said this semester’s meeting focused on implementing internal listservs, which would send mass messages to the heads of departments about important bookstore dates.
Gordon, also a member of Temple Student Government, suggested that TSG remind students to inform their professors to submit orders in a timely manner.
Hanley said he will post messages on TUportal and the bookstore’s Web site with buyback information for the students and faculty. He said students should take advantage of every service the bookstore offers.
“Students use us for a first source for selling back their books and come to us first because there are a lot of different options out there, not just to purchase your books, but also to sell them back,” Hanley said. “We are here to try and give them the most money back as possible, so give us that opportunity.”
Dr. Thomas Morton from the Spanish and Portuguese department said that he has had good experiences with the bookstore in the past and that if his books were late it was usually his own tardiness with a book order.
“I understand due dates,” Morton said. “The only problem is that it is not entirely clear when those [bookstore order requests] are given out what courses you are going to teach.”
“[Committee members] stress book orders a lot, but one thing they kept coming back to was how can they make things better for the students?” Gordon said. “They really care about the students’ input and how to make it better for the students at Temple University.”
The bookstore plans to expand its locations to the Bell Tower and the Barnes & Noble at 1700 N. Broad St. prior to finals week for students to sell back their books. The bookstore will also extend its business hours during that week.
To reduce the wait times during check-out, the bookstore will have scanners register the information of buyback books instead of cashiers entering it manually.
To improve the buyback process, Hanley said he would personally pick up professors’ orders from their departments.
“The price of textbooks is under our control to a certain extent, but we are also at the mercy of the publishers,” Hanley said. “Money is tight for everybody right now. So ultimately, anything that we can do to reduce the price of books on our end is a benefit to the community at large.”
Sarah Fry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org