The University bookstore sometimes sells textbooks and online resources for $100 more than the publisher’s price. Students and faculty are looking elsewhere to purchase what they need for class.

Professor Ted Parks found out from a student that the book and access code bundle for his Intermediate Spanish I class was $439 at Tree of Life, Lipscomb’s bookstore partner. Cengage, the book’s publisher, offers the bundle for $307.95.

“After I emailed a Lipscomb administrator who works with issues related to textbooks, the bookstore discovered that the price was a mistake, quickly dropped it about $100 and proceeded to get in touch with students for a refund,” Parks said.

“What profit margins are involved for publishers and university bookstores?” Parks hopes that faculty members and universities can develop more open-source materials to replace the profit motive with the desire for wider access to learning for everyone.

Hannah Pipher, sophomore biology major, found out from another mistake by the Bookstore that she would have been charged more than double the publisher’s price for an online resource.

“I just think it’s frustrating that through the bookstore I could buy my access code for about $200, Pipher said. “But because the bookstore ordered the wrong code for all of the General Chemistry 1 students, I just purchased it online through the company. I knew it would be cheaper, but I wasn’t expecting to only pay $75 for it.”

Pipher was pleased that she chose the route she did.

“I’m just really thankful that my professor told me I could buy it straight from the company,” she said. “I know several of my classmates bought it through the bookstore, and they’ll never know just how much money they could have saved.”

Carlos Reyes, a senior marketing major, said he tends to buy his textbooks from outside sources, even if the shipping takes longer, strictly because it fits better with his budget.

“I never really buy or rent books from the bookstore on campus because they’re way too overpriced and unaffordable.”

When contacted, bookstore manager Rachel Measell sent the following email statement on behalf of Tree of Life Bookstores, LLC.

“Our textbook software scans the marketplace and other variables and adjusts course material prices on over 9800 titles every night. On rare occasions, we make mistakes. Recently, a pricing error was brought to our attention by a faculty member. In this instance, human error led to a book being sold for nearly $100 more than the expected retail price. The human error was just simply entering in the wrong price of the textbook into the system. Within 24 hours of being alerted to the error, we corrected the mistake, contacted every student that was impacted, and provided a partial refund for the over-charge. We are thankful for the faculty member who brought this error to our attention, and grateful to have a responsive customer support team that quickly corrected the situation.”

This story has been updated to reflect that the price of the Spanish textbook at both Cengage and the Lipscomb bookstore  also included an access code. 

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