Some online book retailers offer cheaper prices than local businesses.
Best book buys may be a click away
Micah Gee feels cheated.
Browsing the aisle of math books in University Bookstore, the freshman and his mother both looked bothered as they found out online booksellers sold the same textbooks he was gathering for less.
"(The bookstore is) going to squeeze as much out of you as they can," he said. If they are cheaper, his mother said they would buy his books online next semester.
"It makes it harder for someone struggling to go through college to make it," Vickie Gee said of the high cost of college textbooks.
Many students have known for years what Micah Gee just found out: Online booksellers such as Amazon.com and Alibris offer sometimes drastically lower prices on textbooks.
The Daily selected textbooks for 14 1000-level courses. Of the seven books for which definite edition matches could be found at Amazon.com or Alibris, the average price difference online was $23.82.
For instance, the text for Introduction to Zoology sells for $114.50 new and $86 used at University Bookstore. At Amazon.com, it costs $79 new and $74.59 used.
At Alibris, the book for Chemistry 1315 through 1425 costs $99.90, compared to $128.25 at University Bookstore.
Of the books found online, the biggest price difference was for "Graphical Approach to Precalculus," the text for Math 1503. At University Bookstore , the book costs $105.25 new and $79 used. At Amazon.com, a new copy costs $45.
Gary Madole, store director for University Bookstore, said the price of books is out of the store's power. They price books to cover the book's cost, the store's expenses and its commission to OU. University Bookstore at OU is part of Follett Higher Education Group, which owns about 700 other stores nationwide, Madole said.
Despite Madole's assurance that University Bookstore does not control its prices, some students still think they pay too much for books.
"Nobody should have to pay $450 for books each semester," marketing senior Erin Morley said. About four years ago, Morley started working for Bigwords.com.
Morley said the Web site works by searching other popular stores like Amazon.com for their best deals. In return, those sites pay Bigwords.com. The search engine scans all the stores at once and includes shipping charges in its final price, she said.
Bigwords.com advertises it saves an average of $68 per two books. Morley says she saved $200 the first semester she used it, and that they also have a buyback service students can use at the end of the semester.
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