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MIT Coop, Others Offer Variety In Textbook Purchasing Options

By Sarah J. Elice

This article is the third in a continuing series aimed at helping freshmen adjust to daily life at the Institute.

This year the MIT Coop, most students’ first thought for textbook purchases, has changed some of its policies in an attempt to become more competitive. The Coop does not hold a monopoly on textbook sales, however, and numerous other options exist.

The Coop has instituted a lowest-price-available guarantee program this year. To take advantage of this program, a student must bring in proof of a lower price, either from a store’s catalog or circular or from a printout of a quote from an online book seller. Students should note that the matched price for an online book price will also include the shipping and handling charge.

Also, unlike in past years, when returns had to be made within the first two weeks of class, the return period has been extended until September 30th. If books were bought before receipts reflected this change, the receipt will still be honored through this return period.

Christopher S. Colbert, general manager of the Coop, added that if a student needs to drop a class, books can be returned with a receipt and proof of a drop through drop date.

Colbert also said that the Coop offers “a buy-back program in the store every day and that’s a good way to reduce the cost of buying textbooks.” He added that students don’t take advantage of the program as the Coop would like.

In addition, depending on availability, one can often find both used as well as new books at the Coop. For example, Hartley Rogers’ Multivariable Calculus with Vectors, the textbook for Calculus (18.022), costs $79.95 new and $60.00 used. Those looking to purchase used books at the Coop should buy them early in order to find books in good condition.

During the first week of classes, the Coop will be open extended hours, until 7:30 p.m., and will be open Labor Day, Sept. 6, from noon to 5p.m.

Other local options

There are several other local options for buying books. Students looking for only new books should explore Quantum Books, which advertises itself as a “technical and professional bookstore.” Quantum is located at the corner of Ames St. and Broadway near East Campus.

To compare, Rogers’ book costs $78.75 at Quantum.

Another place to visit is the MIT Press Bookstore located across Main Street from the Coop.

The Press Bookstore does not have as large a selection as other stores since it stocks only works published by The MIT Press. Many textbooks written by MIT faculty are published by the MIT Press, however. The Press Bookstore charges list price for the textbooks it stocks.

In addition, used books can be found at the Alpha Phi Omega book exchange, which is held during the first week of classes. Students who sell their books set the prices, so no one knows what will be there ahead of time. It is also a very good idea to ask upperclassmen if you can borrow or buy books from them.

Online options also competitive

Several online options exist as well. The most widely used site is probably Amazon.com at <http://www.amazon.com>. Unfortunately, this site is a bit expensive, at least for Rogers’ book, charging $89.50 for the text. The standard shipping fee is a flat rate of $3.00 plus 95 cents per book ordered. Delivery requires three to seven days once the book becomes available.

The best price for Rogers’ book was found at Varsity Books <http://www.varsitybooks.com.> The cost is $68.00, but the book is currently on order. Varsity charges a flat rate of $4.95 for shipping, and, once available, books should arrive within two days.

Another site is <http://www. bigwords.com>, which carries both new and used books. A new copy of Rogers’ book is available at $78.11, while a used copy runs $59.06. The site will ship for free within the U.S. for orders above $35.00. Books should arrive in three to five days.