Coop Alternatives Offer DiscountBy David D. Hsu
With the start of the fall term, students are marching off to spend hundreds of dollars on textbooks.
Most MITstudents buy their books from the HarvardCooperative Society, but Text Express, Quantum Books, and the Alpha Phi Omega book exchange provide inexpensive alternatives, if not exhaustive inventories.
The Coop at Kendall Square offers a broad selection of textbooks. Stock is generally based on professors' requests, said Coop General Manager Allan Powell.
The Coop sets the price of the books based on a 25 percent increase over the original cost, Powell said.
As an example, the third edition of A Book on C by Al Kelley, required for Introduction to Computers and Engineering Problem Solving (1.00), is priced at $43.25.
The book for Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics (10.213), Introduction to Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics, fourth edition by Joseph M. Smith, sells at $85.
For a used book sold back to the Coop, the store pays 50 percent of the price for the same book new, Powell said. The Coop then charges the normal 25 percent markup.
Last fall, the Coop offered a 10 percent refund on textbooks. The refund turned out to be too costly, so it will not be offered this year, Powell said.
The Coop has "a very liberal return policy," Powell said. Books can be returned through Sept. 23 with the original receipt.
Text Express is a relatively new company. Last fall was the first time it sold textbooks, said Chris Long, founder of Text Express.
Text Express has no store; to order, students must call Text Express at 897-7170.
A student places an order, and a Text Express van drops off the books the next day, Long said. If students pay with a credit card and live on campus, books will be delivered straight to the dorm. If students pay cash or live off campus, they must meet the van outside of Lobby 7 at 9:30 a.m. or 4:30 p.m.
"We're doing a slightly different formula than the Coop," Long said. By delivering the books instead of having a normal retail store, Text Express is able to cut costs.
Text Express offers books for 50 to 60 courses, and most books are between 9 and 15 percent lower than Coop prices, Long said.
For example, the 10.213 book is offered at $73, compared to the Coop's $85.
The required text for Calculus I (18.01), Calculus with Analytic Geometry by George Simmons, is selling at $74 from Text Express but is $81 at the Coop.
Text Express does not offer any books for humanities subjects, Long said. The company hopes by next fall to have books for all Institute classes, he said.
Students can return books before Sept. 24 or within one week, whichever is later, Long said.
Long said that students should purchase books from Text Express because "our prices are lower and we offer free delivery."
APO book exchange
The APO service fraternity is holding its annual used book exchange on the third floor of the Student Center .
Students who want to sell used books set the prices themselves, said APO member Charles H. Hamilton '97. Students can also set a lower price for the last day of the exchange.
All the money goes to the students selling the books, and APO receives nothing, Hamilton said. If a book is not sold, it can either be returned or donated to charity.
APO does not monitor prices and has no control of what books come in, so book availability and costs vary, Hamilton said.
Generally, the book exchange has older versions of textbooks, he said. APO also sells course readers and various paperback books.
The eighth edition of University Physics Volume 1 by Hugh D. Young, the main text for Physics I (8.01), ranged in price from $30 to $40 in price compared with $44 at Text Express and $48 at the Coop.
The exchange runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays until Sept. 12.
Quantum Books in Kendall Square offers a selection of computer operations and programming books
Although Quantum Books is not affiliated with MIT, it carries books for a few classes, said Victor Cecchi, manager of Quantum Books.
Director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory Patrick H. Winston '65 offers his textbook, Artificial Intelligence, exclusively through Quantum Books, Cecchi said.
Another text, the 1.00 book by Kelley, is sold at $38.95 because Quantum Books has a deal with the publisher, Cecchi said.