Monday, March 7, 2011

K Students Save Online

An online survey of Kalamazoo College students’ textbook purchasing habits during the winter quarter of 2011, conducted by Lane Powell and Elsa Musko, reveals that 62% of Kalamazoo students purchased at least one textbook from a source other than the Kalamazoo campus bookstore. The graph below shows the distribution of the sources where Kalamazoo students purchased their books.

When students purchased books from a source other than the campus bookstore, they saved an average of $14.07 per book and an average of $22.66 per person. The survey confirms conventional wisdom that price is the most important factor for Kalamazoo students when making the decision about where to purchase their books.

Price, however, is followed closely by how easily accessible the books are, which suggests that even if the K campus bookstore cannot offer lower prices than online sources like Amazon, it can draw customers simply by being the most convenient source of class textbooks. Additionally, the more important the availability of sell-back was to a student, the more books that student purchased from the K campus bookstore.

Finally, on a positive note for Kalamazoo students who may feel they pay too much for books regardless of the source, the survey showed that the average K student spends less than the national average on books. K students spent an average of $213.89 on books during the Winter 2011 quarter, which is $137.44 less than the national average. According to the College Board, the average annual cost of “books and supplies” for undergraduates at private, four-year, on-campus colleges for the 2008-2009 school year was $1054. When adjusted for the quarter system, this works out to $351.33 per quarter. So as K students face purchasing their books for the upcoming quarter, they may take consolation in the fact that they are paying less than their counterparts at similar schools.

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