Bookstore employees across town have braced themselves for the influx of students they see at the beginning of each semester.
Texas State’s enrollment numbers are growing each year. Bookstore employees have had to prepare for bigger crowds of students during the textbook buying rush. Preparation for the new semester rush begins in October after receiving book requests from the different departments across campus, according to Kim Estes, general manager for Colloquium Bookstore on Aquarena Springs Drive. The bookstores then order the textbooks from a publishing house.
“It gets really crazy at the beginning (of the semester),” said Bryanna Armstrong, employee at the Texas State Bookstore. “It only slows down after a few weeks.”
Armstrong said entire stores completely reorganize stock and layout every semester and hire new employees to cope with the mass influx of students to their establishments.
“We have to create, print and label hundreds of shelves for each item,” Armstrong said.
The beginning of the semester isn’t the only hectic period booksellers face, Armstrong said. The end of the semester is nearly as busy when finals begin to approach.
“Some people will come in after not needing the book all semester who now want it for finals,” Armstrong said. “Sales are strong on both ends of the semester.”
Some say e-books and e-readers are poised to overtake physical textbooks as technology becomes more commonplace in classrooms. However, Matt Banks, general manager of Textbook Solutions, said that was not the case for this semester. Banks said e-books have not affected the business at all.
“We’ve been around here for about three years now, and every semester we see our sales increase,” Banks said. “E-books are only slightly less expensive than the physical book, but a major reason why students aren’t using them is because you can’t sell them back.”
Resale is important to many students who use the money from the previous semester’s textbooks to fund their new materials.
“Textbooks are so expensive, especially because you only use them once,” said Katie Lipinski, elementary education sophomore. “I rely on being able to sell my books back so I can buy next semester’s books. Basically, I’m recycling my own money.”
Students have turned to renting as an alternative to purchasing textbooks. This option has become a preference for some students because renting is less expensive than buying the book new or used.
Some rented books were found to be less than half the cost of their buyable counterparts, according to Colloquium’s supplier, Neebo.com. For example, Organic Chemistry by Janice Smith is available for $193.60 to purchase. The same textbook is available at $71.80 to rent.
“Rentals make up about 50 percent of our sales, actually,” Estes said. “The students get all the benefits of buying the book but have to bring it back by the last day of finals.”