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Combating the High Price of Textbooks

St. Mary's Campus Store strives to offer several alternatives to new textbooks in order to help keep textbook costs for our students as low as possible. We have consistently obtained nearly twice the national average of used books at our store for our students. For the 2012/2013 academic year, we sold nearly two and a half times the national average of used books at our store. In addition, many of the professors at St. Mary's have adopted older editions of textbooks for their courses which significantly helps to lower textbook costs for our students. We began renting textbooks during the fall 2010 semester and we have expanded the program significantly since that time. In addition, we offer ebook alternatives for many of our textbooks.

Details of our low-cost alternatives are shown below.

Used Textbooks

St. Mary's Campus Store purchases as many used textbooks as possible. Used textbooks are typically priced at 75% of the current retail price of the new book. Our used-to- new textbook sales ratio for the 2012/2013 academic year was 128% compared to 46% for stores in our sales category as reported in the 2012 National Association of College Stores Financial Survey. We conduct large textbook buybacks at the end of each semester and we pay approximately 50% of the new price (or approximately 50% of the used price for older editions) for those books which are adopted for the following term. Textbooks not adopted are bought back at wholesale prices which are determined by one of the nation's largest used textbook wholesalers.

Older Editions

For the upcoming fall '13 semester, 33 older editions have been adopted in 73 class sections thus far. For the fall '12 semester, 72 older editions of textbooks were adopted in 138 class sections and 72 older editions were adopted in 129 class sections for the spring 2013 semester. Older edition textbooks are priced significantly less than the comparable new edition.


Textbook rentals were implemented for the fall 2010 semester and the program has expanded since that time. We had 80 titles available for rent for the fall 2012 semester and 66 titles available for rent in the spring 2013 semester. The textbook rental program is designed not only to lower overall textbook costs in cases where only new books are available, it also reduces the upfront financial outlay for students at the beginning of the semester. For used textbooks, the rental program reduces the upfront financial outlay. However, it is normally less expensive to purchase a used book and sell it back at the end of the semester in order to minimize the cost of the book.


eBook alternatives are made available for many of the more expensive textbooks. eBooks are priced at approximately 50-60% of the corresponding new textbook list price.