Textbook buyback kicks off Monday

UBS: Sell early, in good condition for most money back

By Samantha Butcher | 4/18/12 9:55pm


Final exams mark both the most wonderful and most harrowing time of the spring for many students, and the stress and anticipation of book buyback can be an unwelcome hassle for many.

With the University Book Store’s buyback period beginning Monday, Tony Glaab, UBS textbook manager, said students should sell back early to get the best prices for their books.

“The best thing to do is come in early during finals week,” he said. “Sometimes we have a quota, so let’s say if there were five sections (of a class) this winter and only two next fall, we can only buy enough at the higher price for those two sections, so the earlier you get in during those finals week, the better.”

Glaab said even if the quota has not been met yet, there are a number of factors that can make a book ineligible for buyback, including excessive damage and water damage. UBS also does not purchase international editions or faculty desk copies.

“You have to think like a consumer — if it’s something you wouldn’t want to buy, we won’t buy it back,” Glaab said.

While many students are unaware of the value of their books until they enter the buyback line, this year UBS began offering guaranteed buyback rates on certain books — 100 titles in the fall and about 75 titles this semester. The list, organized by department and course number, can be found on their website, ubs.gvsu.edu.

Growing numbers of students are opting out of purchasing textbooks in favor of rentals. Rental businesses like Chegg and eCampus have become appealing to cash-strapped college students because of their lower up-front prices. However, despite an increase in the number of colleges and universities offering textbook rentals through their bookstores, Glaab said UBS does not plan to offer rentals, adding the bookstore reviews the value of rental books each year.

“Not always the best option, you may save money up-front — which is important to some people — but according to some of our data, we’ve seen in up to 90 percent of cases, it’s cheaper (to buy),” Glaab said. “… By having used books available and buying them back aggressively for good prices, students are usually saving 40 to 50 percent by buying the book.”

Andrea Blanchard, a GVSU senior, said bad experiences renting last year put her off of rentals.

“I’ve had better luck buying than renting,” she said. “… When you buy, you can use and abuse your textbook however you want, but with renting you must be cautious. And there’s no cash back with a rented book. For me, renting wasn’t worth the hassle.”

About half of UBS’ stock of textbooks is made up of used books each year, Glaab said, compared to about 30 percent at other university bookstores.

“We have a mandate from the university, we are university-operated,” Glaab said. “We’re not Brian’s Books, we’re not a third party, we’re not here to make money — our mandate is to make books as affordable as possible.”

Textbook rental begins Monday and ends Friday, with purchase locations on GVSU’s Allendale, Pew and Meijer campuses. In Allendale, students can sell books back in UBS every day from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., or in Kleiner Commons Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. In Grand Rapids, students can sell books from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday or Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in DeVos Center.

UBS representatives will also be on the Meijer campus Wednesday from noon to 7 p.m.

For more information, visit ubs.gvsu.edu

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