The Emory Bookstore: Still Your Best Source For Textbooks.
That line appeared just below the fold of a full-page advertisement
that ran on page 22 of the Jan. 22 edition of The Emory Wheel.
It mustve been important because it was in all capital letters
as well as boldface typewith best in italics.
The ad also included several bullet points backing up the statement.
These days, students have a bevy of places from which to pick and
choose their textbook purchases. Online retailers, independent used
bookstores and even a textbook-exchange site on Emorys own
popular LearnLink system compete with University Bookstores for
customers and dollars. Its a tough market, since many of these
dealers can undersell their competition (read: university bookstores
around the nation).
Our prices are competitive, said Bruce Covey, associate
director of University Bookstores. We offer more used books
than online dealers, and all our books are already in stock.
Covey listed several incentives the bookstores use to lure customers
like special sales and coupons. Sales are up from last year, Covey
said, so something must be working.
With the many choices available, is Emory the best source for books?
To find out, Emory Report visited a couple of the University
bookstore branches and sampled a dozen titles. We then looked for
those titles online in search of the best deal. What we learned
is that books very often can be found cheaper in places other than
Emory University Bookstores. But as far as one-stop shopping goesand
the ability to touch and feel the merchandise before purchaseEmory
is tough to beat.
University Bookstores is administered out of the Office of the
Provost, and it encompasses not only the main University bookstore
on the second floor of the Dobbs Center, but the medical bookstore
on the DUCs plaza level, the Oxford Book-store and the Druid
Since its off campus, Druid Hills Bookstore flies a bit under
the radar, although it is well known to graduate and law students
(who buy their textbooks there), professors (who can be seen browsing
the stacks and even sitting on the floor leafing through the stores
selections) and serious bookworms (the stores history and
travel sectionsamong othersrival those of many chain
stores, and its academic sections such as philosophy are unrivaled
It also features several bookcases of works by Emory professorsat
10 percent off the list price, as well. And Druid Hills reputation
Weve had faculty members from Georgia State and Agnes
Scott come by, said Ophelia Maynard, operations manager for
Druid Hills Bookstore. Even professors from farther away.
Theyve said they had a positive experience and that we compare
with bookstores at places like Harvard. Theres no other store
like this in Georgia.
Aesthetics aside, many people are interested only in the bottom
line. Which is cheaper, University Bookstores or online dealers?
Of the 12 books Emory Report sampled, we found nine of them
cheaper online new and seven cheaper used. But finding a deal takes
a lot of legwork.
Online retailers are about as numerous as the titles they sell.
We found cheap books at big-time book retailer sites (barnesandnoble.com),
online retail behemoths (amazon.com), and a few sites that specialize
in selling college textbooks (TextbookX.com,ClassBook.com). Some
of the best bargains, however, we found at half.com, a site that
is affiliated with the online marketplace eBay.
The site, whichsimilar to eBayfeatures sellers offering
their wares directly to consumers, and lists used titles at prices
close to 50 percent less than those offered on campus. In this case,
the websites name is truthful advertising.
Of the two books for which we found Emory Bookstores to be cheaper
on all counts, one is written by an Emory professor (Oded Borowski,
associate professor of Middle Eastern studies), Every Little
Thing: The Daily Use of Animals in Ancient Israel, and used
in Borowskis MES 251 class. Another, Misère de la
philosophie, is for a graduate class in French and is written
in that language. In fact, it couldnt be found it anywhere
on the Net.
On the shady side, online books, in several cases, had list prices
cheaper than the University bookstores but were subject to shipping
charges nearing $5 in some instancesa fine-print addition
that made several titles more expensive than on-campus books.
While saving a few bucks on textbooks is certainly nice, there
are a few drawbacks. First of all, the search is pretty labor intensive
and can be tedious, especially if ones Internet connection
One of the most helpful sites is bigwords.com, which prompts consumers
for either a books title or author then spits out a list of
where the book can be purchased online, complete with new and used
The prices change, too. A cheap book (particularly the used ones)
could be $10 today, $20 tomorrow. And just because a site advertises
a certain book at a certain priceagain, this happens a lot
with used titlesdoesnt mean the book will be in stock
While the University bookstores have a tough road to traverse in
competing with online retailers price-wise, they hold a distinct
advantage in one important area: convenience.
I believe that if the average student bought his or her book
through the bookstore rather than online, the student would get
a better deal, Covey said.