Online book retailer agrees to terms of settlement

Patrick Hayes

VarsityBooks.com, an online retailer, and the National Association of College Stores settled a lawsuit last week, in which the association accused the online book store of using misleading advertising.
The association — which represents more than 3,000 stores nationwide, including University Bookstores — filed suit last October accusing VarsityBooks.com of deceiving customers by advertising that it could save students up to 40 percent on textbooks.
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, VarsityBooks.com, a subsidiary of Varsity Group Inc., has agreed not to make that claim any longer, unless at least 10 percent of the books can be purchased for a full 40 percent discount.
The company also agreed to verify at least 10 percent of the books offered at the discount are current books recommended by professors, according to the Chronicle.
The online retailer maintains its actions were and are lawful and admits no wrongdoing under the settlement agreement, according to a press release issued by the company.
“We are very pleased with the resolution of this case,” said Eric Kuhn, CEO and President of Varsity Group Inc. in the press release.
Varsity Group Inc. officials would not comment further on the case but said they were looking forward to the fall book-buying season.
“We’re focusing on trying to provide as much value and choice for students as possible,” said company spokesman Sam Hietner.
University Bookstores Director Robert Crabb said he was happy with the results of the lawsuit.
Crabb and other researchers found VarsityBooks.com only saved students between 5 and 10 percent on textbooks before costs for shipping and handling.
“(Online retailers) still have a long way to go,” Crabb said.
He said the association brought the lawsuit against VarsityBooks.com because the ads made the bookstores look bad.
“It makes anyone selling (books) at anything less than that look foolish,” he said.