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Friday, September 29, 2023

Students, bookstores prepare for semester rush

Lines are getting longer, and wallets are getting emptier.

It?s semester rush at local bookstores.

First-year UF students Michelle Decenteceo and Molly Koozer have quickly learned how to shop around for the cheapest books.

Koozer found the statistics book she had already purchased was ,40 less at another bookstore. She immediately considered returning it to save money. Price was an important factor for the friends.

"You just have to learn how to bargain shop," Decenteceo said.

Many students spend about ,300 in textbooks per semester, said Gator Textbooks Inc. employee Mike Giampietro.

Graduate student Ashley Croom has come to terms with the high textbook prices.

"I?ve kind of just sucked it up," she said. "It?s going to be expensive, so whatever."

Croom has been a patron of local bookstores for five years. She said usually she spends ,300 to ,500 a semester in books.

The biggest problem with textbook shopping for her is finding the books required for her smaller graduate classes because each store only carries a few copies, Croom said.

To save time, students can call bookstores first to get book prices or check availability. Gator Textbooks Inc. even boasts that they will give buyback quotes over the phone or online, said Duane McMahan, co-owner of the store.

McMahan also recommends buying textbooks after attending the first day of class to make sure students buy the right ones.

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"I always went to class first," he said. "Professors change their minds."

For local bookstores, rush seasons are when owners make most of their yearly profits, McMahan explained.

"If you don?t make it now," he said, "you don?t make it."

Students use book buyback to exchange textbooks they no longer need for cash. Buyback is generally determined by half of the value paid for the book.

Other factors can impact the price paid to students, such as how many classes use the book or how many the store has in stock, said Orange & Blue Textbooks store manager Todd Williams.

Some students like David Borrego have mixed feelings about book buyback because they feel they are getting back pennies compared to what they spend.

Borrego, a nuclear engineering sophomore, has to buy some expensive textbooks for his classes. He said he once paid ,150 for one book and got back only ,40.

"I feel like I?m getting ripped off when I sell books back," he said.

Borrego said he saves textbooks that will be useful in future classes or his career, such as his calculus book.

Though students often complain about the cost of textbooks, stores set prices based on what they are charged by the publisher, Williams said.

"It?s not like we apply a secret formula for buyback," said Orange & Blue Textbooks employee Ryan Schaufert.

Working his second rush season, Schaufert said students generally accept the money they are offered for buyback.

Another option is for students to sell their books online on Web sites like, and Facebook?s marketplace, where they buy books directly from the owner, said bookstore co-owner McMahan.

Though students may like to think that bookstore owners are making a fortune, McMahan said that he isn?t in it for the money.

"We?re definitely not becoming millionaires by any means," he said.

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