Prices cause displeasure

A February survey done on the Book Marq revealed some customers are dissatisfied with the way the store prices its books.

According to a survey of 1,380 students and 97 faculty members, over-priced books are a major concern when purchasing from Book Marq, 818 N. 16th Street. Of the 1,380 students who filled out the survey — which was sent online to students and faculty members, according to Todd Vicker, executive director of auxiliary services — 66 percent said pricing was their main motive for buying books from a given place.

Most students and faculty who chose to fill in a write-in section complained in some manner or another that pricing at Book Marq is not fair to college students.

One student wrote, "The Book Marq is ridiculously over-priced. Sweeney's is a much better bargain and I have been going there because of that."

Another student wrote, "I usually only get $5 to $10 back for a book which I paid $70 for. That is ridiculous."

However, students were not the only patrons of the online survey to voice their concerns about pricing at the Book Marq.

"The price for used books is outrageous," one faculty member wrote. "If it continues I will do like many other colleagues and start purchasing books on Ebay."

This is the first time the survey has been made public. It was given to the Academics Committee of Marquette Student Government in early March, according to Vicker. Head of the Academics Committee Kate Stolowski said it hadn't occurred to her that the information should be brought to the full Senate's attention. She also said she thought students knowing about the survey would make a minimal difference for students and faculty on campus.

"The university just renewed a contract with Follet last year," Stolowski said. "I know students are dissatisfied with the Book Marq but (Follet) will be here for another four years, so I did not think it would make much difference."

Toby Peters, associate vice president of administration, defended the contract extension made with Follet.

"The survey is just one part of a large process in finding a provider for Book Marq," Peters said. "Eight years ago Marquette had its own bookstore and it was horrible. Sometimes students would stand in line for 45 minutes just to get into the store."

Peters, who negotiated the contract renewal with Follet, said Barnes and Noble and Sweeney's were also considered to become providers for the university bookstore. Peters said exhaustive research went into finding the next provider last year, including an open forum which 150 students attended and a survey similar to the one last February.

Although similar complaints about pricing were made in the 2003 survey, senior Mary Kate Havlik, Head of the Academics Committee in 2003, said Follet was the overwhelmingly popular choice to have its contract renewed.

"When you looked at the overall picture, Follet made the most sense," Havlik said. "Neither of the other two providers could have given as much money back to Marquette as Follet could have. Plus Follet was the only corporation who could back all the books needed to provide for classes."

Vicker defended the pricing system at the Book Marq, too.

"Pricing/value is primarily determined by the contribution the materials bring to your classroom experience." Vicker said in an e-mail interview. "When a textbook is used in class and is an integral part of the learning that takes place, price becomes less of an issue. "

Vicker said faculty might try and be more careful in which books they choose to order and which books they choose not to.

"Faculty should adopt only the materials students need for class," Vicker said. "New textbooks are regularly adopted because updated statistics, and other information will provide you more current content."

Book Marq manager Dave Konkol also defended the pricing system in an e-mail, saying the Book Marq "uses standard industry pricing on all textbooks."

Konkol said the students could greatly reduce the cost of buying books by selling them back to the Book Marq. However one recurring theme in the survey was a complaint about the low buy-back rates at Book Marq.

The Book Marq is "over-priced and the buy-back value of the books" is lousy, one student wrote. The student said they received $9 back for a book they had paid $95.00 for. An employee of the store was displeased the way the buy back policy worked as well.

"I work there," the student wrote. "Even with my discount my prices are high."

Konkol said the Book Marq would "pay up to 50 percent of the purchase price if a book has been readopted for use in a subsequent semester. By buying used books and reselling them a student can significantly reduce their investment in textbooks."

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