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Davis, California

Friday, March 1, 2024

On-campus book sales offer solution to college affordability

Faced with upcoming fee increases, many UCD students have found one place where they can cut costs: textbooks.

According to the UCD Financial Aid’s “My Awards” website, the yearly estimate per student for books and supplies is $1,590. However, this cost can be offset by utilizing alternative options for purchasing and selling textbooks.

The ASUCD Book Exchange, created in 1996, is a program designed to be an open market for individuals to sell books at prices they set themselves and to buy books from their peers at discounted prices.

“The goal is to create a network for students to buy and sell books at their own discretion and [for the students] to hopefully both save and make a lot more money this way,” said To Nhu Do, ASUCD Book Exchange director.

Beginning at the start of every academic quarter and lasting until the middle of the second week of instruction, the Book Exchange boasts a simple process.

First, students bring their used textbooks to King Lounge in the Memorial Union, where the staff scans ISBNs to determine if the titles are currently in use. Then, students set their own prices and are free to browse the books that other students are selling. After a week, students either receive sales vouchers that can be cashed at Dutton Hall, or can pick up any unsold books.

Although there is a 5 percent service charge that goes to ASUCD, many students are still able to turn a profit.

Sophomore animal science major Johnathan Li has used the Book Exchange twice, once in Spring 2009 and once this past quarter.

“I feel like it’s really convenient having such a wide range of prices,” he said. “You really get your money’s worth using it.”

For students who prefer to get their books from the University Bookstore, there are also chances to save money.

Implemented over 10 years ago, the lowest price guarantee program is a policy that promises the bookstore will either match the price of any textbook sold by a legitimate seller or refund the difference for textbooks already purchased at the bookstore. In 2004, the policy expanded to include books sold from online businesses as well. However, this does not encompass books sold by individual sellers in online marketplaces, such as Amazon.com.

Jason Lorgan, department manager at the bookstore, insists that buying through the bookstore is a student’s most viable option.

“The program began because of our desire to provide textbooks to UC Davis students at the lowest possible cost,” he said. “[Along with] our buyback program, this program helps us achieve [that] goal.”

Last fall, sophomore managerial economics major Akshaya Ganesh was unable to find many of her books at a reasonable price. But, when told about the price matching policy by a bookstore employee, she was able to find books that would have originally cost her $60 for nearly half that price.

“It’s worth the time and research because you’ll save a lot of money,” Ganesh said. “[And if] you can get textbooks right away, then you can start studying earlier so you don’t fall behind in classes.”

Nevertheless, both programs are underutilized by the student body.

“Despite the benefit [we] provide, we’re encountering a lot of students who have never used [the Book Exchange] before,” Do said.

Furthermore, though 100,000 titles were sold for fall quarter, only 2,000 were price matched, according to Lorgan.

With multiple options to save on textbooks, it is only a matter of time before students find the price that fits their budget.

KYLE SPORLEDER can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.


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