Frequently Asked Questions

Did you know that faculty plays the MOST important role of all in the buyback process?

The buyback process really begins when the bookstore receives textbook adoption forms from faculty for the next term. Only when the store has your course requirements can we determine which used books to buy back from students at SCC, and which books to order from wholesalers and publishers. The earlier that we have textbook adoption forms in hand, the more used copies we can obtain from students and used book wholesalers. That’s why we need your textbook adoption information months before the next term begins. College bookstores across the continent are competing for a limited supply of used books, particularly for newer titles, which of course have fewer total used copies in circulation. If wholesalers know our campus is seeking certain titles, they will be in a better position to purchase them for us on other campuses. The store may work with more than one wholesaler in an effort to secure more used copies for students. And, if wholesalers cannot furnish all the used books we need, we still have time to order new books for delivery before classes start.

Q: I hear students complaining they receive little for their used books. How does the store determine what to pay?


A: The value of a used book depends a great deal on whether or not that particular book is going to be used on this campus next term. The bookstore is able to pay more for books that will stay on this campus, possibly as much as half or more of the retail price of a new book. If the book is not going to be assigned here next term, however, the store will check with wholesale book companies to find out if they are buying the book. Wholesalers typically pay less because they have to add the costs of shipping and other normal business expenses to the resale price. Unless a textbook adoption form has been submitted to the store, we do not know whether a book will be used again next term. The store cannot afford to buy back books on speculation. In the absence of an adoption form, students receive only the lower wholesaler buyback rate, possibly even nothing if there is no demand elsewhere for the book.

Q: Why are my Textbook Adoption Forms due so early to the Bookstore when my classes don't start until months later? 

A: Even though classes don't start until the fall, the best time for us to purchase used books, both on campus and nationally, is when classes end in the Spring. Then, national demand for used books far exceeds the supply, and inventory sells quickly, so we have to conduct our national used books acquisition as early as possible. Also, having your texts on our buyback list enables us to pay the best prices, and therefore, keep textbooks cost down for students. It also keeps the books in the local market for resale and from being sent to a used books distributor. Finally, we need to communicate with faculty when books are out-of-stock and when editions change. Book information is increasingly more difficult to verify now that there are so many bundles and ancillary components. And, in general, we find that instructors are more difficult to reach over the summer.

Q: How do you decide how many textbooks to order? 

A: On your Textbook Adoption Form you will input information such "Previous Semester Enrollment"  and "How many books need to be ordered." Based on this information and our previous semester sales the Bookstore then gauges how many textbooks to order. The Bookstore strives to keep our sell-thru numbers high to minimize our returns. We also take into consideration that there are online competitors that students buy from, as well as the amount of textbooks students may buy from each other. 

Q: Why is the Bookstore running out of my textbooks?


A: As noted above, there are many considerations that take place when textbooks are ordered. While we strive to ensure that all students have textbooks available on the first day of classes, plus a few extra for unexpected orders, occasionally we will still run out of textbooks. Sometimes sections of classes are added, sections are maxed out, or students are added to sections beyond the cap of the class. Moreover, the publisher may be out of the textbook, or we are simply waiting for it to arrive. Any of these issues can cause us to run out of textbooks. 

Q: Well, since you have run out of the textbook what do I do?

A: The Bookstore tries to determine approximately how many students are still in need of the textbook. When textbooks run out, the Bookstore will contact the Department so the Instructor can be made aware. Generally, our textbooks arrive within 3 days of the order being placed. In the event that it may take longer than this, the Bookstore will expedite the shipment so that it will arrive within 1-2 business days. We realize that this is a major issue for students and you, but be assured that we are trying our best to get the materials in as soon as possible. 

Q: Why are textbooks so expensive?

A: Briefly, textbooks are so expensive because more often than not, limited publishers own the rights to print the textbook. This means that they are able to drive up the cost of the prices without fear of competitors. According to data from the National Association of College Stores, more than 77 cents of every dollar spent on textbooks go to publishers. Of that 77 cents, the publishing company makes about 18 cents in pure profit, while spending 15 cents on marketing, and roughly 32 percent to cover the overhead cost. Adversely, authors - those who have dedicated hundreds of hours to research and write the book only get 12 cents on the dollar average. 

Q: What is the ISBN?

A: An ISBN is a unique number specific to a particular title and edition of a book. You can find the ISBN on the back cover of your textbook. The ISBN is the best way to identify your textbook. 

Q: I have used the same textbook for the last three years. Can't the Bookstore assume that I will be using it again? 

A: It is important for the Bookstore to have the Faculty members confirm that the same textbook is being used. Textbooks often change editions each year. Keep in mind though that you can easily send the Bookstore an email to let us know that you are using the same textbook until that edition changes. We will gladly keep ordering the textbook or buy it used from our students until you feel the need to upgrade. 

Q: Some students don't sell their textbooks back at buyback. Does that mean that the Bookstore will not have any used copies available?

A: While we love to purchase the textbooks directly from students since it builds a sense of trust in the student to know that we are there to help them, it doesn't mean that we can't sell used copies if they don't sell at Book Buyback. We have a list of wholesalers that we can purchase directly from to ensure that students are still able to save money when they purchase from us. 

Q: If I adopt a textbook bundle, does that mean that the Bookstore will not carry a used copy?

A: Not always. The only time that this would hold true is if the passcode (or other supplemental material) being purchase separately still saves the student money. This means that if the Bookstore is able to negotiate a price with the publisher to sell the passcode low enough to accompany the used textbook to be purchased together and still be lower than the new bundle we will have it in stock. Also, keep in mind that if we can't sell a used textbook to students and save them money, then we will not have it in stock.