Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Friday, March 23, 2018

AU bookstore adopts textbook price match policy

Students can get a discounted price for their books, but it isn’t an easy process

AU bookstore adopts textbook price match policy

AU’s campus bookstore is now offering price matching for textbook purchases in an effort to help students save on expenses.

The program was rushed out in November, and, as a result, the process of price matching has been a bit clunky, according to Matthew Arnold, the course materials manager at AU’s Follett bookstore.

“Essentially, our system doesn’t create the capability of doing a true price match in the sense that we give the discount up front,” Arnold said. “At the moment we are doing it through gift cards [to the campus store]. You pay the full price for the book like you normally would, and we give you the gift card for the difference.”

The AU campus bookstore currently contracts its textbook sales with Follett, a retail company that partners with thousands of college campus stores nationwide. The bookstore recently adopted the practice because of Follet’s acquisition of Nebraska Book Company, another college retail partner which already had a price matching program, according to Arnold.

A price matching program makes the bookstore’s prices more competitive with online retailers. According to Arnold, if a student finds the textbook for a cheaper price online, he or she can show the campus store the online price option, and the bookstore will sell the student the book for the website’s price.

Additionally, according to Follet’s Price Match Program Process Guide, price matching only applies to textbook prices found through Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Chegg. This excludes warehouse deals, digital books and any peer-to-peer marketplaces. Price matching also must be conducted in person, as the AU bookstore cannot price match online, Arnold said.

However, Arnold said AU may expand the price matching system to online sales by next semester.

“We could always undercut price matching by making our prices more in line with where Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Chegg are already,” Arnold said. “Then we wouldn’t have to worry about price matching at all, because we would be more price competitive with the overall marketplace.”

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