Textbooks, Conkey’s or online? Put your money where your modem is

Katharine Enoch

It is quickly established through either your own observations as a freshman entering Lawrence or from the bitter moans of upper-classmen about being “stuck in the bubble for too long” that the Lawrence campus is not only extremely isolated from what sometimes feels like civilization, but also in what options we have. Although we might be living inside a bubble, we don’t necessarily have to buy inside the bubble. We all realize that with the prices of books, Grandma’s $100 check for school supplies just doesn’t cut it anymore. Unfortunately, Conkey’s, due to the lack of other nearby options, completely monopolizes the market for student book purchases.

But there are other options for students. Online bookstores are nothing new, but seem to go unused…or at least not as frequently used as they should be. It is simple, fast, shipped directly to your dorm, and saves you a cold walk down the Ave. So to put these online companies to the test, here is an example of a bill for books purchased at Conkey’s compared to the total cost of books and shipping from online sources.

After purchasing selected books for. say, a Music Theory class, Major British Writers I, and Literary Analysis, the bill from Conkey’s amounted to 265.80 dollars. The same exact books (exact in terms of publication, edition, and condition) purchased online only cost 175.78 dollars, shipping included. The student saved roughly $100.

Textbook prices online tend to be substantially lower than those at Conkey’s. For example, the music theory textbook Harmony and Voice Leading by Aldwell and Schachter costs $86.95 from Conkey’s. But to order it online and have it shipped from the UK, the same text costs only $55.05.

There are some drawbacks to ordering online. For example, shipping times ranged from 1 day to a week. So if the book is needed immediately, you might resort to buying it at Conkey’s. But if you have the time to spare, online purchasing can be well worth your while.

For this article, the Website www.allbookstores.com was used to research specific texts and their prices. The site scans over two-dozen online bookstores, searching for the best price and organizing the books according to cost, condition, shipping, and publication. Ordering is easy and thorough, and appealing as a solution to the overwhelming prices of books, especially as they add up over the years here at Lawrence.