Bookstore blues: Students scramble for texts

Richland students are scrambling back and forth to the bookstore these first weeks of the fall semester searching for required textbooks and waiting for coffee in lines as chaotic as the traffic on Central Expressway.

Some may wonder how the bookstore uses funds from sales of textbooks, supplies, clothes, snacks and the ever-popular Starbucks coffee products from the cafe. Where does the money go? Why are books priced so high? Who sets the prices?

Adam Boynton, manager of the Richland College Bookstore & Café, said, “Textbook pricing is of great concern for us. We’re proactively finding ways to keep the cost of course materials down and, while pricing is primarily driven by the publisher, we work hard to offer a variety of cost-saving options.”

Boynton said pricing is based on purchasing criteria: Used books offer an approximate 25 percent savings off the cost of new books. Rental books offer a savings of up to 80 percent compared to purchasing new. With digital books, the savings vary according to the publisher.

The bookstore offers up to 50 percent off the original purchase price for book buybacks in use the next term until the needed quantity is met. For discounted pricing on course materials, the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) no longer receives a portion of sales.

According to Boynton, the bookstore’s cost-saving options have saved Richland students roughly $1 million when all factors are taken into consideration. He said that a portion of all sales, except on course materials, are paid back to Richland.

A private company, Follett, operates the bookstore and café. They receive a portion of all sales which helps cover the cost of merchandise, payroll and other overhead.

Boynton said whenever the bookstore is running short on textbooks, the most effective way to make sure they’re in stock is to order them at the beginning of the term. In some cases, he said the team will evaluate the demand and order additional quantities as needed.

“Students should also know that we always offer special orders if they find that their book is out of stock. Our central goal is to ensure each student has access to all the materials needed for success,” Boynton said.

Nevertheless, it’s the beloved Starbucks coffee that often gets students through the day. The coffee shop, with its indulging products, is managed by the bookstore.

“We serve Starbucks brand products as part of the ‘Proudly Serving’ program,” Boynton said.

Long lines are testament to that popularity.