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Textbook options available on campus

Kristen Durbin and Julia Harris | Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Students may be preoccupied with studying for finals in coming days, but they will also be faced with an even bigger challenge — deciding between the several options available at the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College for unloading their textbooks.

The Hammes Notre Dame bookstore and the Shaheen Bookstore at Saint Mary’s College both are gearing up to buy books back from students during finals week.

Saint Mary’s junior Sylvia Rojas said the convenience of selling books on campus is a major draw, despite a diminished resale value.

“Selling the books back to the school is the easiest option,” she said. “They gave me back about half of the money that I paid.”

Bob Dezenzo, textbook coordinator at the Shaheen Bookstore, said the bookstore will repurchase books depending on their condition and use for the following semester. Students will receive about 50 percent of the sale price back in cash, he said.

Kristin Blitch, marketing manager for Notre Dame Retail Operations, said bookstore operations have changed with this year’s implementation of the Rent-A-Text textbook rental program.

“It’s very difficult to predict the total number of books that we’ll be buying back due to the popularity of the rental program,” she said. “As the Rent-A-Text program continues to grow in popularity, we expect that more titles will be rented as opposed to purchased.”

Blitch said the program is extremely successful due to the bookstore’s partnership with student government.

“Saving the students money is something we like to do,” she said. “Text rental is a great way to make this happen.”

Former Academic Affairs chairman AJ McGauley said the program had a few minor setbacks in its first year at Notre Dame.

“There was some confusion last semester about when rented books needed to be turned in,” he said. “Some students were charged for keeping their books if they were not turned in on time.”

McGauley said the future success of the program depends on whether professors submit their orders to the bookstore by in time to determine the books available for rent.

“Our compliance rate right now is 60 percent, which means that only that percentage of courses listed at Notre Dame have books that were designated by professors and can be rented by students,” he said.

“It’s on the professors to get to the bookstore about their book needs, so their participation needs to improve in the future to improve the Rent-a-Text program.”

Saint Mary’s senior Nina Midgley was satisfied with her Rent-a-Text experience.

“It was much cheaper, and I knew I wouldn’t get the money back if I bought the book and sold it,” she said.

Students also have the opportunity to donate used textbooks to Better World Books, a company based in Mishawaka and founded in 2002 by 2001 Notre Dame graduates Christopher Fuchs, Xavier Helgesen and Jeff Kurtzman.

The company collects and sells used textbooks to fund literacy initiatives worldwide, Chief Executive Officer David Murphy said. Better World Books runs used book drives on more than 1,500 college campuses around the country, and it has collected more than 53 million books for reuse or recycling since its inception.

Murphy said these drives have a positive affect on communities.

“Our first book drive at Notre Dame in 2002 benefited the Robinson Community Learning Center,” he said. “At Notre Dame, we appeal to students to donate their books to continue to support the Robinson Center and to promote sustainability by keeping books out of landfills.”

Murphy said the company encourages donations of books, though it does offer an online buyback option on its website. This focus appeals to the social consciousness of Notre Dame students, he said.

“Notre Dame students understand that simple actions can help change the world, so we want to appeal to them to lead they way, and they do,” he said. “Even if students know they could get their money back, they realize what a difference they can make, especially in the local sense with the Robinson Center.”