Sherwood said he’s noticed an increase in buyback prices at the end of the semester.
“We have noticed over the past three years that the offer prices at the end of the semester have come up dramatically because there are so many rental companies, or smaller companies, to fill up their inventory with used books,” Sherwood said.
Green stickers on books from the Student Stores indicate guaranteed buy-back value of at least 35 percent, said Student Stores Director John Gorsuch.
Some books may retain up to 50 percent of their value at the end of the semester. Student Stores worked with one of their textbook vendors to start the green sticker program and improve student confidence in the bookstore as a valid option, he said.
Gorsuch said they have also worked with the vendor to ensure every book sold this semester will have some value at the end of the semester.
“The thing that bothers students is when they spend a lot of money on a book and then a new edition has come out, and they find that it is worthless,” he said. “We’re trying to calm those fears.”
He said 90 percent of the time when buying used books students can get 80 to 90 percent of what they paid back at the end of the semester.
“We’re seeing that textbook rentals are really popular, but our data shows that it’s a better deal to buy the cheapest used copy available with the idea of selling it at the end of the semester,” Sherwood said.
He said the main reason for these changes is competition.
“It comes down to that the college textbook market is a very big market,” he said.
“The primary thing that is driving these changes is that more and more of the companies competing for textbook business are small companies or individuals that don’t have to make a very large margin to be profitable.”
For buying back to be effective, professors must use a textbook for multiple semesters so that students can sell it to the next class.
And professors need to let Student Stores’ book buyers know the texts needed as early as possible for them to secure the best prices for students, Gorsush said.
“We’re competing with other book stores and other online companies to grab up available used books on the market,” he said. “If we know early, we can start buying up that inventory.”
Economics professor Rita Balaban has been using her current Economics 101 textbook for four semesters, and she said she tries to hold onto old editions for as long as possible.
“No need to switch unless you’re being forced to.”