May 2, 2003

Stores Compete for Buyback

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As finals draw closer, students are faced with the problem of what to do with their used textbooks from the year. This year, a number of opportunities to sell and donate books are available to students.

The Cornell Store is a well-known option for many students. According to Tom Romantic, director of Cornell business services, there is no way to know the exact numbers of students who use the Cornell Store book buy back service.

“We believe the Cornell Store is the best place to sell books back, because we typically pay higher prices on a longer list of titles than any of the students’ other options for selling books,” he said.

Romantic also stressed the large number of locations students have to choose from when selling their books back, “in addition to the Store, we currently buy books at Robert Purcell Community Center, Noyes Community Center and Stella’s Coffeehouse in Collegetown.”

Romantic said that the prices at which the store buys back its books “are set based on whether a title will be used again at Cornell, and whether we have a firm order for a faculty member for an upcoming semester. If we have an order from a faculty member, we will pay 50 percent of the new price of the book, regardless of whether the book was bought new or used, until we obtain the quantity we need.”

Romantic said that if there is no faculty order, “we can only offer wholesale prices. In this case, the book will be shipped off campus to a warehouse and then usually resold to another campus.”

The wholesale prices of books are determined by the wholesaler the Cornell Store uses.

Romantic said that one difficulty in the buying process is in the fact that new editions of books are constantly coming out. “Faculty are trying to make the most current information available to their students, and we’re trying to run a successful, cost-effective business that provides the best value to our customers,” Romantic said.

A second option for students looking to sell back books is Kraftees, a new store located in Collegetown on Dryden Rd.

According to Patrick Kraft, owner of the store, Kraftees sells and buys books all year. Kraft said that the prices his store buys books from students is “decided by a couple of different factors.”

Kraftees checks book prices with four different wholesale companies. “When a student comes in with a book, we’re going to give them the highest price of the four companies.”

Kraft said that currently, Kraftees is also working to find out from the University which books will be used next semester. “Right now, we’re getting as much information as we can from professors and departments,” he said.

According to Kraft, the Kraftees store provides a good place for students to sell back their books on their own time, as the store will buy books back all throughout the year, while other organizations only buy books back at certain points in the semester.

Kraft said that his store is “more prepared to buy back books” at any point.

Kraft stressed the commitment the Kraftees store has to buying back as many books as possible from the students, even if the books are not being used the next semester.

Kraft said this comes from working with more than one wholesale company to ensure competitive price and greater selection. Kraft also said that if the book is not being used on the Cornell campus, there is a high probability “one of the [wholesale] companies will want it.”

Additionally, Kraft said that the store tries to sell the majority of its books back to students. “Our business is built on inventory,” Kraft said. “We want to resell them on campus.”

Kraft said that his store is committed to what is best and easiest to the students, and stressed the importance of selling books to on-campus locations such as the Cornell Store or Kraftees so that when it comes time for students to purchase books, they will have a larger selection of used titles available.

Kraft said he is interested in his business being “in the best interests of the student.”

Currently, Kraftees is establishing itself in the Cornell community by working with local student organizations, sponsoring philanthropies.

According to Kraft, “we think that we provide a pretty good place to do business.”

There are, in addition to these stores, other choices for students wanting to sell books back including local sales, other book buy back programs and internet buying sites.

In addition to selling books, students also have the option of donating their books to charity. Several campus organizations participate in book drives for philanthropies.

This year, the Acacia fraternity is organizing a “Books for Ithaca” drive. Mike Nasatka ’03, service chairperson for the fraternity, said the drive “aims to help the Tompkins County Library System, specifically the library in downtown Ithaca.”

Books donated to the library will be sold at an annual sale.

Books for the drive will be collected at several different locations, including the Straight, Trillium, Noyes and Robert Purcell Community Center among others.

According to Nasatka, “Acacia’s goal is to bring awareness of the Friends of the Library to the Cornell community and to fill all of our collection boxes to the brim.”

Romantic said that the Cornell Store participates in philanthropy drives to give away books that students cannot sell back to the store.

“At each buyback the store usually provides collection boxes for book donations. We work with various student organizations who select the charities which will redistribute the books.”

According to Romantic, one project the store participated in was a collection whose “result was over 320 cartons of books being sent to the Asia Foundation in San Francisco for distribution to Afghanistan.”

Students express varying opinions about book buyback at Cornell. According to Gretchen Guzek ’04, the Campus Store is the easiest option. “I feel like the Campus Store would give back the most money, just because they’ve been doing it for so long.

However, Guzek said, “I don’t sell back all my books. Just the ones I really hate.”

Mike Rosenberg ’04, had a much different outlook on the buyback process.

According to Rosenberg, “I keep a majority of my government books because it’s just not worth it to sell a $45 book back to the Campus Store for $2. I have spent over $500 on books in a semester, and have been offered $12 by Cornell.”

He added, “book buyback is probably the furthest thing from my mind coming into exam week.”

Archived article by Kate Cooper