Did Someone Ask About Class Books?


Julian Perez, Jr.

Inside the CUC Bookstore.

Zahra Sammour

Adrian Mendez walked out of the CUC’s Barnes & Noble Bookstore in early September shaking his head in disappointment. 

The sophomore paid for $250 worth of books in the bookstore. Since he paid so much, Mendez recalled, he expected to get the physical books for the semester. But when he picked up his order, he instead “got just a piece of paper and a code,” Mendez says.

After Mendez received his e-books, his professor advised him and the rest of the students to buy their books online because they might find them cheaper. 

“I needed it for class fast,” said Mendez. “I would’ve got it $100 cheaper online if I had known at the moment.” 

In fact, Barnes and Noble does allow price matching, although many students seem to be unaware of that policy.  The store will only match the price the book is listed at on Amazon, however, and it must be a product that is both fulfilled and shipped by Amazon and not a third-party store.

“The qualifications are that it must be done on the day they are purchasing the book,” said Dennis Venturelli assistant manager and textbook manager at the CUC Bookstore. “Amazon must also have it in stock and so must we. We price compare new to new, used to used, and rental to rental.”

There is a required text called Campbell Biology that is required for the Spring 2023 semester General Biology II class. The CUC Bookstore is selling the book for rent only at the price of $80.99. The book is also available digitally for $39.96.

The same book was found on Amazon to rent for $74.99 and digitally for $84.99. That means students would be able to price match off the lower cost.

Amazon isn’t the only website where students find their course materials, of course. On the website abebooks.com, the book was found for less than $60 for a brand new version. A recent eBay listing offered a brand new copy of the book for $72.90. Students would have to buy from these websites directly if they wanted to, because it wouldn’t meet the price matching qualifications at the campus bookstore.

“We have the books the professors ask us to have for the semester,” said Venturelli. “Most of the purchases we have here leave the students satisfied.”

Other students seem to not spend money on school books at all. “I have never bought a book from the bookstore here,” said sophomore Valeria Fernandez.

There are many ways to find books online. Sometimes the required books for students’ classes could be found posted by professors from other universities for their own students. One popular source for textbook downloads, Z-Library, was shut down by the U.S. Department of Justice in November, and two Russian nationals have been arrested and charged with operating the website. 

“I only stepped foot in the bookstore once and it was for merchandise,” said Fernandez. “I bought a sweater. It was expensive, but worth it.”

Fernandez says she checks the syllabus for each of her classes and makes sure to get her hands on the books by the first week of classes.

Other students purchase from the bookstore directly before realizing there are cheaper ways to get their textbooks. 

“I bought all my books from the bookstore,” said freshman Biyanni Stinson. “It was easier for me to get to, but was so expensive. I found a book online for $20 after I had bought it from the bookstore for $200. I’ll always do price comparison from now on. I’d rather buy it online for cheaper.” 

“I’ll only buy from the bookstore again if I can’t find the book I need anywhere else,” said freshman Yaslette Chavez. “Or if the book I need ends up cheaper in the bookstore at one point.”