The answer is simple - to support Oklahoma State University. Unlike privately-owned bookstores, the University Store is owned and operated by Oklahoma State University. Meaning, all of the monies spent at the University Store stay at the university rather than into an individual's private bank account or to an out-of-state corporation. The University Store funds many worthwhile programs and services offered by the Student Union. For more information about what the University Store supports, please visit our Fast Facts page.
Frequently Asked Questions
Publishers are responsible for most of the costs associated with textbooks. There is no such thing as a “list” price for textbooks. Publishers sell to the University Store at a wholesale price, and we set a retail price that allows enough margin to cover our costs for shipping charges, collating the books on the shelves, salaries, utilities, etc.
Textbook costs are an issue for students at every university across the country. The University Store shares your concerns regarding textbook prices and we work diligently to find innovative ways to help manage your overall investment. Our strategies include:
- Making more used books available
Consulting with faculty to help them understand the prices of the materials they’re
- Educating faculty on the importance of submitting their textbook adoptions on time
- Making textbook buyback days more convenient and worthwhile for students
We generally advise against using online and other non-university affiliated sources for several reasons. First, your shipment could be delayed, which could cause you to fall behind as the semester begins. Second, you can’t be sure until your shipment arrives that the textbooks you’ve purchased online are the exact editions specified by your instructors. Finally, the “lower” price you might pay online doesn’t factor in the added costs of sales tax, shipping and handling, or the hassle of returning a book purchased online.
Not necessarily. Check the tags on the textbook shelves to distinguish between titles that are required and those that are listed as optional. A careful review of the course syllabus can also help you determine the extent of the reading assigned or when a book will be used during the course. Some syllabi are available online prior to the first class.
Buying textbooks back from students helps us to keep a robust selection of used books in stock, and enables us to pay students 50% of a book’s new price if the text will be required by a Oklahoma State course the following semester. Textbook buyback runs for almost two weeks at the end of each semester at several convenient locations on and off campus. We also buy back textbooks at other times of the year, but some of the best prices are paid at the end of each semester.
You may return a book you don’t need during the first 10 days of spring or fall semester classes (five days of summer classes) for a full refund provided you did not write in the book. No returns will be accepted after a given date. Credit is given according to the initial method of payment. For example, if the textbook was bought on a bursar account, your bursar account will be credited.
With a valid student ID, you may charge up to $1500 of textbooks and educational supplies during the semester. All charges are placed on your bursar account, which should be paid off each semester.
In truth, the University Store does not set the deadline for textbook adoption forms. The date is set by the provost office in an effort to keep the university in compliance with federal law that requires textbook information to be available to students at the time of their enrollment.
It also takes time to process the large volume of textbook adoption forms for every course Oklahoma State offers. There are all kinds of variables that may need to be pinned down in processing each book adoption request, like: resolving problems with requests and communicating back to faculty; preparing lists for used book wholesalers; seeking out availability and best prices among multiple distributors; ascertaining when new editions will be available; finding out whether textbooks bundled with other components can be obtained separately; and reviewing enrollment figures and sales histories to help determine how many copies to buy. Additionally, because thousands of college bookstores order books within the same period, wholesalers and publishers need time to process and ship the flood of orders.
We also need the adoption forms so we know which used books to buy back from our students.
What questions should I ask a publisher’s representative to get at the key issues related to the price of a textbook?
There are several questions to ask when deciding which textbook to adopt:
- How much will this book cost my students? Remember, though, that when asked for the price of the text, publisher’s sales representatives frequently quote the cost of the textbook to the University Store – that is, the net cost. The net cost does not include the University Store’s markup, which reflects operational expenses and other costs of doing business. However, if you know the net cost we will be happy to estimate the retail price your students will pay. On new texts, the University Store operates on a 20 percent gross margin. The national average is 25.5 percent. The University Store makes a concentrated effort to keep the margin low, in order to keep costs as low as possible for students.
- Is the textbook available by itself or sold only as part of a bundle?
- What online resources are available to students with the purchase of the text, and are they available to anyone, or only to students who buy a new copy?
- When is the next edition going to be released?
The University Store must add a certain amount to the cost of all merchandise, including both used and new textbooks, to cover our operating expenses and Student Union overhead, such as staff wages and benefits; freight; utilities and insurance; cleaning and repairs; supplies; and other costs. The University Store also contributes funds back to the campus community and generates $17 million of the Student Union’s $22 million budget. These monies support the Union’s operations, programs and services, including the much-utilized Department of Leadership & Campus Life, helping to keep student fees to a minimum.
I hear students complaining they receive little for their used books. How does the store determine what to pay?
The value of a used book depends a great deal on whether or not that particular book is going to be used on this campus next semester. The University Store is able to pay more for books that will stay on this campus, possibly as much as half of the retail price of a new book. If the book is not going to be assigned here next semester, the store will check with wholesale book companies to find out if they are buying the book. Wholesalers typically pay less because they have to add the costs of shipping and other normal business expenses to the resale prices.
Unless a textbook adoption form has been submitted to the store, we do not know whether a book will be used again next semester. The store cannot afford to buy back books on speculation. In the absence of an adoption form, students receive only the lower wholesaler buyback rate, possibly even nothing if there is no demand elsewhere for the book.
If there is so much demand for used books, why doesn’t the University Store buy back all of the textbooks students bring in?
There are many reasons why a book might not be bought back. Possibly the book is not being used anywhere next semester. The book may be part of a required bundle of items that cannot be sold separately. The copy may be in poor condition. The store and/or wholesaler may have reached the needed amount (the number of copies we buy back is based on anticipated enrollment for the next semester). We cannot afford to buy more copies than we expect to sell.