University Bookstores benefit from staying open on Labor Day

The University Bookstores have taken in approximately $500,00 in sales since Labor Day.

by Jared Roddy

Despite declining bookstore sales across the nation, the University Bookstores are doing better than expected.

Open Labor Day for the first time this year, bookstores at the University took in almost $500,000 in sales. Book sales, along with increased apparel and supplies sales, have revenue above expectations thus far.

Adding new cash registers and rearranging the textbook area of the University bookstore in Coffman Union has resulted in three- to four-minute waits during the early-semester rush. That’s down from the 20 to 30 minutes students would sometimes wait in years past, University Bookstores Director Bob Crabb said.

“That’s almost unheard of in the college store industry,” Crabb said. “Most stores just don’t have enough room for the registers.”

However, students still have some issues with the bookstore. One they continually deal with is the high price of textbooks, Crabb said.

But the bookstore can do little to decrease prices, Crabb said. Margins for textbooks are typically approximately 25 percent. So, for a $100 textbook, $75 goes back to the publisher.

“We’ve been working with publishers to try to reduce packaging and unneeded editions,” Crabb said.

Publishers often create new editions so students cannot buy a used book, Crabb said.

Students also complained about the hit they take when attempting to sell books back at the end of the year.

“It’s outrageous how little they give you for your books,” sophomore Kaylee Briggs said.

Briggs also said it was difficult to find the books she needed.

Sophomore Becky Balestrieri also had difficulty locating her books this year.

“Sometimes they’re on top or behind other books, and the rows don’t start where the one before left off,” Balestrieri said.

Neither Balestrieri nor Briggs said they had to wait very long to buy the books they found.

The increased revenue for University Bookstores comes at a time when textbook sales are dropping across the country.

According to the National Association of College Stores, new textbook sales across the nation dropped from $6 billion in 2002, to $4.8 billion in 2003.

Laura Nakoneczny, association spokeswoman, said the reason might be a slight increase in used-book sales or the drop in percentage of students who actually buy all their books.

“The rest of the decrease could be because 57 percent of students find alternative ways to complete assignments without their textbooks,” Nakoneczny said. “So only 43 percent of students are purchasing all of their texts.”

She said that number had declined from 50 percent in 1998.

University Bookstores made $24.9 million last year, $16 million of which was from textbook sales.

The remainder comes from insignia items – apparel and gifts emblazoned with Goldy Gopher or the “M” – and supplies.

University Bookstores previously had several smaller stores on campus. When the consolidated store in Coffman Union opened in 2003, eliminating most of the smaller stores on campus, sales in supplies and apparel increased 40 percent.

The college bookstore industry had $10.76 billion in sales in 2003.

Crabb said the University Bookstores are continuing to see increases – 5 percent or 6 percent – over last year.