Bookstores defend pricing of books

By Matt Gronlund

Students expressing concerns over shady book pricing at the local NIU bookstores need not worry, they’re not getting ripped-off.

Some students have been questioning whether they have been saving the 25 percent they thought they were by buying used books. However, what these students were worried about turns out to be a common practice among bookstores.

According to sources from two campus bookstores, it is not unusual to put a higher price on the store’s price tag than the publisher put on the book, if it’s an older copy.

“Some of the books have been recycled for 10 years. When we buy the books we pay the new price, not the price originally put on the book,” said Mitch Kielb, director of the University Bookstore located in the Holmes Student Center. “The classics especially, like ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin,’ could have been around for 10 years.”

He said even though the price originally put on the book could be as low as 75 cents, the bookstore has to pay the new price which could be much higher because the book might have been written several years ago.

Mirroring Kielb’s explanation, Dick Boardman, manager of the Village Commons Bookstore, 901 Lucinda Ave., said VCB follows the same practice.

“Something like that may happen because some of the books are five or six years old,” Boardman said.

He added, “It’s (raising the original prices on new books) just not worth it. I don’t think the other bookstore would do it either. There’s no motive for it.”

Still unconvinced, some students might continue to wonder why the retail price is crossed off of select books. “When the price is no longer current, especially with paperbacks, we punch the old price out,” Boardman said. Both bookstores either punch out or cross off the old price.

New books, Boardman said, are priced as most people would expect. “We charge retail price (for new books) unless it’s damaged, then we mark it down,” he said.

Kielb said more than half of the University Bookstore’s sales are from used books and “students do save 25 percent.”