Textbook adoption rates at 65 percent for spring semester

MU ranks no. 1 in terms of used book sales.
A sign advertising the University Bookstore's Book Buyback program sits in the bookstore. Rates for textbook adoption, the amount of professors who've notified the bookstore of which books they will require next semester, are down 19 percent from last semester.

As of Wednesday, textbook adoption rates, the number of professors who have notified the bookstore of the textbooks they'll require for the next semester, are at 65 percent.

Student Auxiliary Services spokeswoman Michelle Froese said University Bookstore is trying to ensure every student gets the best price for their textbooks by informing professors they can impact buyback prices, enacting new policies this semester and improving students’ options.

“We need to be resourceful for students and campus, and we have to find affordable ways to do this,” Froese said.

Froese said the bookstore is hoping to improve their rental title selection next semester because the option is becoming more popular among students. This semester, University Bookstore was able to offer 200 titles for rent. They are guaranteeing they will buy any book, up to 20, for $5. The bookstore has bought back more than 9,000 books for $5.

Froese said University Bookstore also hopes to increase digital book sales and purchase more used books to sell to students. MU is ranked as no. 1 of 80 schools in the Large Stores Group for highest percentage of used book sales. Some of its peers are the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Washington and Harvard University.

“Used books require lots of information,” Froese said. “We have one full time employee who looks for used book sources. That is our commitment to students.”

Froese said University Bookstore is implementing other actions to help keep prices for books low and the money students get for selling books high. One way they can ensure reasonable prices is publishing their own books with introductions by MU professors. University Bookstore encourages professors to create custom course packets, which are often cheaper than textbooks they might have previously made students buy.

“As long as they promise to use it again, we’ll buy it back,” Froese said.

A professor’s decision about what books they will be using in future semesters is one of the largest factors in what buyback prices will be. Once their textbook adoptions are in, University Bookstore can know which books can be bought back for top dollar. Textbook adoption rates are at 65 percent, which might affect prices for the semester.

“(Adoption rates) just aren’t on faculty radar with finals around this time,” Froese said. “Orders were due at midterms. They’re busy, and I don’t think they are aware of the impact they have on students in terms of buyback.”

Froese said the Bookstore would like to dispel students’ fears they are cheated out of money.

“You barely get any money back,” freshman Summer Marra said. “I paid $300 for my books and got $56 back.”

Some students go to other places to try to get more money for their book.

“All of my books were paperback,” Marra said. “If I had bought a $300 bio book, I would have sold it on Amazon for more money. I know you get better prices from Amazon, but the bookstore is convenient. I liked it. It was easier than I thought.”

Although textbooks are bought back for at a price lower than new or used, Froese said the bookstore doesn’t turn around and sell them for a higher price, though not a significant profit. For example a new book that sells for $100 would earn a student $50 at buyback and then the store would sell it for $75. The Bookstore does make a profit but they are not out to gouge students, Froese said.

“If we were out to make pure profit, we would just sell sweatshirts and T-shirts,” Froese said.

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