Textbook Department

The VSU Bookstore's Textbook Department serves Valdosta State University. The textbook department is located on the first floor of The VSU Bookstore, in the Student Union Building at 1500 N. Patterson Street. This department provides all of the required and optional course materials for all courses offered both on and off campus. The primary mission of this department is to support the academic mission of the University by providing the right products, at the right time, and at the most reasonable price possible for the operation. Following are some details concerning the Textbook Department. You will probably spend a lot of time in this important part of the bookstore. If you have any questions contact us at 229-333-5669 or email Jennifer Crane




We are located in the Student Union Building at 1500 N Patterson Street.

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All books are shelved in alphabetical order by academic department and course number sequence. Shelf cards hang above each book and list the courses for which that book is intended. These shelf cards also note whether the book(s) are considered "required" or "optional" by the course's instructor. If a book is noted as "required" this usually means that the instructor teaching the course will test from material contained in the book(s). If a book is noted as "optional" this usually means that the book(s) will enhance the material in the course but is not considered essential to the course. Only a few copies of "optional" books are normally provided.

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Textbooks are expensive and, unfortunately, like everything else, they continue to get more expensive each year. Though textbook prices have gone up, studies conducted by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) show that over the last 20 years, they have only gone up about as much as most other things that we buy. In fact, the price of textbooks has not risen as much as tuition has in the same twenty-year period. We still believe that a textbook, used by a student to enhance classroom performance, is the best bargain money can buy for a superior university education.

Pricing Policies: We price our merchandise for resale in such a manner as to pay all of our operating expenses and keep the price of the merchandise as low as possible for our customers. This can be a real challenge! Frankly, we cannot always be competitive with the major discount chains on clothing and school supplies, because they have huge buying power. In order to combine our buying resources with those of 150 of the largest college stores in the United States. We pass these savings onto our customers. Let me tell you specifically how we price the major product categories in the store:

New Textbooks: We price new textbooks to achieve at least a 28% gross margin on each sale (margin is the difference between what we paid for the book and our retail selling price). Many people confuse the process of "mark-up" from the objective of "margin". If our cost on a textbook is $64.08, we divide this cost by .72% (the difference between 100% and our target margin of 28%) to get $89.00 as the retail price. $24.92 is the gross margin dollars that represent a 28% margin between cost and retail and a 39% mark-up from cost. On those books where we receive a discount higher than 28%, we retail them at the suggested retail price from the publisher (frequently seen in pre-priced mass market paperback books).

It is from gross margin dollars that the bookstore pays all of the operating expenses of the store, including inventory, salaries, benefit package, freight, and all other operating costs. The VSU Bookstore receives no operating funds or subsidies from the State of Georgia or the university.

Used Textbooks: We price new books at 75% of the new book price. For example: that new textbook described above which sells for $69.50 we would sell used for $52.50. Almost every college store in the country uses this same pricing method for the resale of used textbooks.

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All required and optional books that we sell are chosen by your professors. They know what titles best explain the important things you need to learn in their classes. Your professors study tens and sometimes hundreds of textbooks before choosing the ones that best fit their needs. Professors at VSU are concerned about textbook prices for their students. They often request paperback editions, when available, to help keep costs down. In addition, many of our faculty members are now developing course packs (specialized materials from a variety of sources) which can be custom-published at lower prices than traditional texts.

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Like every college bookstore across the country, and, in fact, like every retailer, our costs determine our retail prices. We maintain a tightly monitored margin (or spread) between our purchase cost and our retail price in order to cover the expenses of our operation. We maintain a 28% gross margin on new textbooks and a 33.3% gross margin on used textbooks. The freight costs involved in receiving these books from our suppliers as well as returning to them unsold books are included in these margin amounts as part of our expense. Please refer to our Pricing Policy for more specific information on how textbooks are priced.

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Here is how the cost of new $40.00 textbook is typically divided. First, the publisher takes an average of 66% (or 66 cents of every new textbook dollar you spend). Then the author gets approximately 10% (or 10 cents for every dollar), and the freight companies take about 3% (or 3 cents of every dollar). Salaries and benefits for your bookstore's employees take approximately another 11% of each dollar. Another 5% goes to pay for the direct operating expenses of the store (including equipment, maintenance repairs, supplies). The remaining 5% is required, by State law, to go to the Auxiliary Services Reserve Fund to support their programs, activities, and/or the reduction of their operating expenses. We are proud that the University Stores contributes a substantial sum of money to VSU, all of which remains on campus to benefit the faculty, staff, and students of the University.

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The VSU Bookstore buys used textbooks from about a dozen wholesale textbook companies as well as from students enrolled at the University. We sell used textbooks as a lower-priced alternative to new textbooks. Our cost on used textbooks is approximately 50% of the retail price of a new book, and we resell these used copies at 75% of the retail price of a new book.

We require that used books sold to the VSU Bookstore be in good condition for resale, including an intact front and back cover of the book. We don't penalize for highlighting in the book, but we do not buy back books with missing pages. Our faculty members ask that we not sell used copies of study guides, workbooks, lab manuals, or any book with a computer disk or CD-ROM.

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The VSU Bookstore buys back textbooks from students. Current edition textbooks, in good condition, will be bought back at 50% of the new book price, if an order for that book in on file for the next semester. Overstocked books and books not requested for next term will be bought at a wholesale price, if possible. Old edition textbooks are rarely bought back.

Books bought at retail (meaning the VSU Bookstore plans to resell the books to VSU students) are worth up to 50% of the new book price providing:

  • The book is being used at Valdosta State University or any of its' off campus sites.
  • The book is needed to fill the bookstore's quota. We have limits to the number of books we need to meet our inventory requirements.
  • The book is in reusable condition. On used books, in particular, the lifespan of the book may deteriorate quickly. We exercise the right to determine the condition of the book for resale purposes.

Books that are not needed at VSU for the following term, but still have a national demand, are bought on a wholesale basis (up to 35% of the new price)and sold to a used book company. This company hopes to sell these books to other college or university bookstores. Old edition textbooks rarely have a resale value.

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What is book buyback? 
Book buyback is a service provided by the VSU Bookstore to students who wish to sell back textbooks that they do not want to keep for future reference.

Why should I sell my books back to the VSU Bookstore? 
It is an opportunity for you to help other students reduce the cost of their textbooks, while assisting you to cover the expense of your own textbook purchases by giving you cash for your unwanted books. Having a large supply of used books available is the single most significant way that the VSU Bookstore can assist you to reduce the cost of your textbooks. You are our best source of used books. Our preference is to purchase them from you rather than from a used book supply dealer.

How much will I get back for my books? 
If we have received a firm order from a professor that your textbooks will be used again in the upcoming semester, we will pay 50% of the list price whether the books were purchased new or used. If we have not yet received an order for a particular title, it may still have a resale value so all titles should be brought into buyback for price quotes.

How much will I get back for books not yet ordered for the upcoming semester? 
If you have a current edition of a title that has not yet been ordered at VSU for the upcoming semester, we check the database of a nationally recognized used book dealer, Follett Campus Resources, for demand. If the book is listed, it will be purchased and recycled into Follett's used book market for purchase by other universities.

The prices paid can range from 0-30% of the retail price determined by copyright, subject matter and demand. Due to frequent edition changes, used book companies take a huge calculated risk in purchasing these titles with the potential of worthless inventory.

Do I need my receipt to sell my books? 
No, a receipt is not needed. However, the books must be in good condition. The bindings must be in good shape, with covers and pages intact and with no heavy highlighting or underlining to make the text illegible.

Do you buy packaged texts or books with disks and tapes if they have been ordered for the following semester? 
If your textbook was sold as part of a package, all components must be intact when you sell back the book. If any piece is missing then the book will not be bought back at the 50% price. However, due to concerns about mishandled disks or tapes and the inability to check them at buyback, decisions to buy them back is at the discretion of the buyer.

Do you buy study guides and workbooks? 
Generally, yes if there are no pages missing and they have not been excessively written in making the text illegible. Once again, the purchase is at the discretion of the buyer.

Why do I see books on the shelves the following semester when I was told at buyback time that an order had not yet been received for those books?

There are three different reasons why this could happen:

  • Buyback prices are driven by professor's book requests. Unfortunately, some book orders are received at the VSU Bookstore after the heavy buyback period has ended. Therefore, you received less money than you could have if the information had been known earlier.
  • We are still receiving textbook orders as buyback is occurring. Prices change daily as new book orders continue to arrive. A title worth $10.00 today could be worth $30.00 tomorrow but, as stated in reason number 3, the reverse could also happen.
  • Purchase quantities are based on the estimated enrollments that professors supply when they submit their orders. Our standard is to buy back up to 80% of the number to be ordered because not all students want used books. When the VSU Bookstore has reached it's limit of used books needed of a title, the price will then drop from 50% of the retail price to a lower price. This rarely occurs because the buyers will inform us of the price decrease and normally we will then increase the quantity needed unless we already have an overabundance of copies.
When is the best time to sell my books back? 
The best time to sell is right after classes have ended and during finals week each semester. Remember that during this period, we are buying books for the upcoming term so the prices will be higher. Once the semester has begun, we have all the books we need. At this point, none of your books will be purchased at the 50% price but rather at whatever the used book dealer has determined their value.

If I know that a book is only used in the fall semester should I try to sell it back in December? 
That's a tricky one. To receive the best price, you should wait until the May buyback. However, if the book has been around for a couple of years, you then run into the possibility of the title going into a newer edition, resulting in the book having no resale value.

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