College bookstores face online competition


As another semester begins, many students are finding theirselves overwhelmed with payments. Students are emptying their pockets for tuition and housing. Then, they must find a way to buy their required textbooks, and the competition between booksellers is staggering.

Before choosing where to buy books from, students often compare prices between new, used and electronic options in multiple stores—online and in-person.

Books can be bought or rented from websites like Amazon or Chegg for cheaper prices. However, shipping fees and delivery time can make online shopping difficult.

The ULM Bookstore stocks their store before the semester starts so students don’t have to worry about any shipping fees. Students can get their books as soon as they walk through the doors, so the anxiety of waiting for their books to arrive is eliminated.   

To Isabel Lewis, a junior biology major, convenience is one advantage that on-campus bookstores have over their online competitors.

“My sophomore year, I really wanted an ‘A’ in Organic. So, I bought the physical textbook from the bookstore along with the access code because ULM was providing a bundle,” Lewis said. “It was too complicated to buy them separately.”

Students can also find used books on the Facebook page, ULM Book Swap. There are over 6,000 active members exchanging books or selling them at discounted prices.

The ULM Bookstore attempts to compete with their online competitors, according to Stacey Cordell, the on-campus bookstore manager.

Similar to Amazon or Chegg, the bookstore allows students to rent books for a semester. Since the bookstore is franchised by Barnes & Noble, they can price match with Amazon for different books.

Cordell is constantly seeking ways to improve the practicality of textbook shopping for students and parents. Although the process was simpler when she went to college, the books were often pricey.

“When I attended here at NLU, buying textbooks was a one stop shop,” Cordell said. “You would walk up to a window in the bookstore, a worker would get you your books, and you would pay for them then and there.”

During Prep sessions, Cordell will set aside her stands and open the floor up for students and parents to buy books with ease.