GS Bookstore vs. Online: Where are the textbooks?

Taisha White

At the beginning of each semester, one question runs through every student’s mind: where am I going to get my textbooks? With the closing of Gray’s College Bookstore this past summer, the Georgia Southern University community has only two options left in the textbook purchasing department: The University Store and online vendors. Both options have their pros and their cons.

The University Store

After the closing of Gray’s, the University Store became for most of the GS community, the only local resource when it came to purchasing textbooks.

Brooke Salter, University Store textbook assistant manager, hopes that the preparation helps ease the process.

“One of the things we did in preparation for fall is kind of build in an extra buffer for that number that we expected to have; you know an influx to accommodate with Gray’s closing,” Salter said.

Salter also recognizes the online competitors as the biggest threat to the store, but credits service as giving them an upperhand to the competition.

“I think one of the most valuable resources in the University Store is our student workers. They really can give advice and connect when they are helping people shop or when they are checking out,” Salter said.

Although the store has its positives, there are some negatives as well. In most cases, the first few weeks of school at the store are engulfed in long lines and large crowds. In a time where most students may be in need of the same book, there may be a case of the book being sold out. Also, for those waiting for financial aid refund checks, most of the time, they do not come until two weeks to a month after school has begun. In some cases, if the book is needed immediately, some students may have to pay out of pocket in order to have the book on time.

Online Competition

The online department in the textbook world has become a very popular tool over the past few years. Students and non-students across the world are able to use websites such as eBay and Valorebooks.com to purchase textbooks, as well as other school items, at a sometimes cheaper rate than local options.

In some cases, online stores offer extra additional perks when one is about to purchase their items. Examples include free shipping and codes for discounted prices. Amazon Prime offers unlimited streaming of movies and TV when becoming a member. Other stores, such as Chegg, offer homework assistance and study guides for certain subjects.

“You can get Amazon Prime to ship you a book within two days. That’s about as fast as you are going to get from the bookstore. So when it’s also about a tenth of cost, it’s a better option,” Victor Cauffield, senior biology major, said.

With all of these positives, there are a few negatives as well. Additionally, with online purchasing, some used books will not come in the best quality or shape because one is not able to have to an item right in front of them. Some websites have even come across as fraud.

Since there are so many online options, most students would only recommend the usage of the University Store only if the book is exclusively found in the store or if there is an access code required.

Michelle Daly, junior writing and linguistics major, says that although the University Store has its perks, one should not shy away from the online options.

“For certain books, yes. The quality of the books there are usually really good. They don’t have really any fully or messed up books and the pickup is really nice,” Daly said, “I would definitely recommend shopping online to see if there are any cheaper options.”

Photo courtesy of Kelly Lowery.