By Jordan Bowen, Staff Writer—
According to a recent survey conducted by the University Echo, price is the most important factor that students consider when choosing where to buy their textbooks, with long lines and convenience also influencing the decision.
The poll, which was created through SurveyMonkey, received responses from 60 students, and found that more than 78 percent of respondents chose a third-party retailer for their textbooks, like Amazon or Chegg, over the Barnes and Noble bookstore on campus.
Kenzie Wilson, a senior from Chattanooga said that she often has to buy several books for one English class. For her, both price and convenience were top priorities.
“The lines at the bookstore are crazy in the beginning of the semester, and I do not live on campus, so it is easier to just ship books to my house,” Wilson said.
She also said that shipping books to her house from Amazon is much quicker, cheaper and saves time she would have spent waiting in line at the bookstore.
“At the end of the semester, I can ship the rentals back instead of having to worry about returns during finals week,” Wilson said.
In contrast to Wilson’s statements and the survey results, bookstore Manager Kellie Wright said that the bookstore’s rental program and price match guarantees saved students $1,154,738 during the 2016-2017 academic year.
When asked if the bookstore could provide a specific history of sales records to support this statistic, Wright said that she is not allowed to give out such information.
Wright said that when students buy their books at the Barnes and Noble bookstore, some of the money made by the bookstore goes back into the university.
“A percentage of revenue generated by the bookstore goes directly back to UTC to support student scholarships and other special programs,” she said.
While the price was the most common reason students chose other retailers over the campus bookstore, according to survey responses, there are several other important factors, like long lines and the number of books available that affect where students buy their textbooks.
Wilson said she would be more encouraged to go to the bookstore if they could make changes that helped students spend less time waiting in lines.
Survey results echo Wilson’s sentiments, with long lines and inconvenience being the second-most popular reason students choose third-party retailers over the campus bookstore.
Poll results also indicated that students are concerned that the bookstore often runs out of rental textbooks very quickly, forcing them to search elsewhere.
While some students tend to avoid the bookstore altogether for various reasons, 22 percent of poll respondents said that they actually do buy all of their textbooks from the campus bookstore, and another 60 percent said they buy some of their books from the bookstore.
A common survey response was that often, professors require a book that can only be found in the bookstore, and that the bookstore also makes exchanges relatively easy for students.
Wright said that the bookstore stocks every book requested by professors for every class on campus, even the most uncommon books, which could be an advantage if students are not able to find some of their more obscure textbooks through third-party retailers.
Cedricka Westmoreland, a senior from Murfreesboro, agreed with Wilson and the survey results about how the long lines at the beginning and end of semesters are a hassle, but she also noted that she is able to use her financial aid as bookstore credit, greatly reducing the financial strain from buying textbooks that many students experience.
Westmoreland, like Wilson, said that she would like to see the bookstore develop strategies to make the textbook-buying process less of a hassle.
Students generally responded that they would appreciate changes from the bookstore that make the process more cost-effective and less time-consuming, so all students can have the opportunity to purchase their textbooks at the bookstore.