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Stony Brook University Bookstore Takes Steps Toward Textbook Affordability For Students

Offers “Low Price Match Guarantee” and other important cost saving services for students

STONY BROOK, N.Y., January 15, 2010 -  The  University Bookstore at Stony Brook University is much more than a college bookseller. Its staff is committed to giving back to the campus community, often donating to events and using a generous percentage of total sales to support educational initiatives. With programs already in place to help students save money, the bookstore continues to develop initiatives to make textbooks more affordable.

Students deserve the choice between new and used textbooks and bundled and unbundled items which are the most common factors that affect textbook affordability. The most direct way for students to save money is to buy used textbooks because they are 25% less expensive than new ones. The  University Bookstore orders as many used textbooks as they can, as early as possible, to ensure availability to meet the needs of Stony Brook students.

One of the bookstore’s main goals is to educate students, faculty, and staff not only on its policies, but also the textbook industry itself. By working closely with the Office of the Provost’s Liaison, the bookstore has steadily increased the number of on-time book requisitions by reaching out to the campus community. On-time requests give the bookstore staff ample time to locate as many used books as possible by the start of the semester.

  • The “Cash for Books Program” helps students save money when they sell back textbooks they no longer need for class. The bookstore has buyback stations at popular campus spots, such as the Kelly Coffee & Tea House, to make it more convenient for students to sell their textbooks.
  • Last year, the  University Bookstore paid out an impressive $547,331 to students, an increase of 19% over the prior year.
  • Not only did buyback give students this money at the end of the semester, it also put more used books on the shelf for the upcoming semester, enabling future students to get their textbooks at lower prices.
  • The “Low Price Match Guarantee” ensures that students get the best deal in the area: the  University Bookstore will match the lowest price of any local brick-and-mortar store.
  • No new textbook is ever sold at a price greater than the publisher’s list price. (A publisher’s list price of a new textbook takes into account the expert authors who wrote it, the shipping and fuel cost for freight companies to deliver it, the intricate resources used by the publishers to design and print it, the hardworking bookstore staff, and the university itself.)

Is Online Purchasing More Convenient, or a Myth?

A study conducted by the National Association of College Stores (NACS) in summer 2009 disproved the myth that “buying textbooks from an online retailer is always more convenient.” A September 1, 2009, news release from NACS revealed that “by purchasing directly from college stores, students avoid shipping costs, receive the correct edition of their books on time, make only one stop, and can easily make returns and tap their financial aid.” Through the Bookstore Campus Account program, students receive the money up front to purchase their books right away, while the amount they select is charged to their Student Account and may be deferred against financial aid or paid in monthly installments using The University’s Time Option Payment Plan (TOPP).

With the cooperation of the campus, however, the  University Bookstore can get costs even lower and save students more money. A student who purchases a used textbook pays 75% of the new price. This student can receive 50% of the new price at buyback time if faculty has informed the bookstore that the same book will be used. In the end, the total cost to the student is just 25% of the new textbook price.

Starting in the summer of 2010, the  University Bookstore will assist the University in complying with the textbook provisions of the Higher Education Opportunity Act. As part of this legislation recently signed into law by President Obama, colleges and universities that receive Federal financial aid funding are required to post the required and recommended textbooks for courses at the time of registration to full extent practical. At Stony Brook, this information will be available through the bookstore web site and will be automatically linked to the online registration process in SOLAR. As an added benefit, when a student completes registration he/she will have the option to get a full list of course textbooks and the pricing at  University Bookstore. They would then be able to print out this list and comparison shop and/or place all or part of their order with  University Bookstore online.

Stony Brook University has been selected to participate in a  Textbook Rental pilot program  for the upcoming spring semester. This program will allow students to rent some or all of their textbooks from the bookstore, as opposed to buying them. It is a cost-effective and useful option for students who do not anticipate keeping their books, as well as for students who prefer to not go through the process of selling books back at the end of the term.

The  University Bookstore is located on the lower level of the Melville Library. For hours of operation, information on textbook return/refund policies, sales, and other events, become a fan on Facebook at