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Book smart: Looking for the best deal

Freshmen Amanda Raber and Christina Doty were two of the thousands of students who packed into the USF Bookstore to hunt down books before the start of fall semester.

“I just wanted to get my books here and get it over with,” said Doty.

Instead of looking into alternatives – which can be cheaper in some cases – it seems some students prefer the convenience and proximity of the on-campus bookstore.

“Students can be assured they are getting the correct books because we work very closely with the school,” USF Bookstore manager Grace McQueen said.

Also, it seems some students question the reliability of off-campus bookstores.

“I’m a music major and I wasn’t sure the other (bookstores) would have everything I needed,” Doty said.

Joe Reis, general manager of Gray’s Bookstore, which is located on Fletcher Ave. in a plaza adjacent to Target, saID there is no reason any student should feel apprehensive about buying books from an off-campus source.

“The off-campus bookstores offer the same variety of services that the University bookstore does,” Reis said.

In fact, more often that not, off-campus bookstores sell new and used books for less than the USF Bookstore. Books and More, which is located just west of 15th and Fletcher Ave., has the lowest prices when compared to the USF and Gray’s Bookstores.

However, as a result of the USF Bookstore’s relationship with Barnes and Noble – which manages the bookstore – USF gets a cut of the profits. The more the bookstore sells, the bigger the cut for USF, according to McQueen.

“When students shop at the USF Bookstore, they are supporting USF,” McQueen said. “When they shop at Gray’s or Books or More, the money goes straight to the owners.”

Books and More features a full-service shopping experience called “counter service” in which students simply hand their schedule to an employee who retrieves the textbooks while the student waits. Gray’s has a similar service.

The USF Bookstore, which boasts the largest selection of textbooks out of the three stores, benefits students who pay with financial aid with a program called Book Advance Purchase Program (BAPP). Using BAPP, students can simply pay for textbooks with their student identification card.

All three stores will buy books back year-round, offering up to 50 percent of the original price only if the book is to be used again the next semester.

In addition, Books and More offers a 7.5 percent rebate check to any University organization – fraternities, sororities, athletic teams, clubs, etc. A leader from the organization collects and then submits receipts, then Books and More issues a 7.5 percent rebate check in return. Gray’s offers a similar 5 percent discount.