UB Bookstore's 'price match' program goes head-to-head with other textbook sellers

Students appreciate the bookstore's commitment to lower prices

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Giuli Bauman paid $250 for her textbooks last year, but until this semester, she had no idea how much she could save on her textbooks.

Now, she’s considering using the UB Bookstore’s “price match” program.

“I think it’s awesome, and I wish I knew about it or it had more exposure because books are already so expensive. So this is definitely helping with the high cost of being a student here,” said Bauman, a sophomore linguistics major.

Every year, thousands of students can spend upwards of $300 on a single textbook at the bookstore. Some courses, such as “General Chemistry” and “Circuit Analysis,” require textbooks that sell for hundreds of dollars at the Bookstore.

The bookstore’s “price match” program allows students to match prices at the bookstore with popular vendors like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If prices are lower elsewhere, and the textbooks are “fulfilled by” the vendors, students are eligible to receive bookstore credit for the price difference.

The Spectrum analyzed a number of popular 100-level and 200-level courses on Tuesday morning, and students can save as much as $77* through the program on select books. At the bookstore, for instance, a new copy of “Chemistry: Central Science (14th Edition)” with a Mastering Chemistry access code costs $328.50. The same book costs $252.89 on Amazon. Students can save about $75 if they use the program with this title.

Additionally, electrical engineering students can buy a new copy of “Engineering Circuit Analysis (9th Edition)” through Barnes & Noble for $151.32. If students buy the same copy at the bookstore, it can cost $167.25. But students who show cashiers the Barnes & Noble price could receive $15.93 in store credit.

Greg Neumann, manager of the UB Bookstore, said a “big rule of thumb” with the program is price matches are only eligible with companies like Amazon if the company itself fulfills the price.

“Anybody selling textbooks out of their garage can easily beat any and all price comparisons, [so] no apples versus oranges price matching is eligible. It must be used against used and new against new, etc,” Neumann said.

About 66 percent of the bookstore’s business comes from the first weeks of the semester, according to Neumann. Although he said activity picks up again toward the end of the semester, he considers the opening days as the store’s “holiday season.”

“In order to best serve the early crowds, we begin hiring temporary help weeks in advance, training them as cashiers, floor clerks, text department associates, internet processors, etc,” Neumann said.

He said the bookstore has about 50 new employees this semester, who are mostly students. Neumann said he likes hiring students because they know “the pulse of the campus best” and have “a lot of empathy with their fellow students.”

The lines are long in the first two weeks of the fall semester, though, and Neumann said mid-afternoon hours are “usually” the busiest times at the store. Neumann said students can expect the shortest lines during the early and later times of the day.

Still, some students brave the long lines in order to grab their required textbooks.

Bauman went to the bookstore on Tuesday afternoon looking to buy a book for her 300-level “Structure of English” linguistics class. A used copy of the required book, “English Syntax,” sells used for $47.25 at the bookstore. The same copy on Amazon costs $27.99 and Bauman could save about $20 on her book through the “price match” program.

Bauman said if she wasn’t informed about the program by The Spectrum, she wouldn’t know about it.

“Students should definitely see how this can contribute to their savings. Just being informed on this helps so much and every dollar saved adds up,” Bauman said.

Fred Clabo and Adam Demer, junior English majors, looked for a copy of “The Song of Roland” for their Medieval Epic class on Tuesday. The two didn’t know they could save $2 if they match their bookstore purchase with Amazon.

“As long as I can save money, I’m happy. Two dollars is two dollars,” Clabo said. “Anytime the bookstore or UB wants to help save me money, in any class, I’ll take all the help I can get from them.”

Demer said the price match program is “huge” for students, especially for those who have jobs on top of their classes.

“They probably have bills, insurance and payments to make, so any money you can save will help and any savings they can offer through this I think it’s especially beneficial,” Demer said. “Obviously, you’re going to have traffic wherever you go on UB’s campus but the fact the [bookstore] offers this, it provides an incentive for students to wait in their lines.”

While the semester is underway, Neumann recommends students know their class schedules and consider all their options for textbooks — rental, digital or open education resources — when coming to the bookstore.

*All prices featured in this story are as of Tuesday morning.

Benjamin Blanchet is the senior features editor and can be reached at benjamin.blanchet@ubspectrum.com and @BenjaminUBSpec.

BENJAMIN BLANCHET



Benjamin Blanchet is a graduate student and student journalist based in Buffalo, New York. Aside from The Spectrum, Blanchet has appeared in Brooklyn’s ARTSY Magazine and New York’s RESPECT. Magazine.