New store opens near campus

PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER TOMLINSON—Store manager Tyler Green sorts books at Textbook Brokers.


Rapid growth

Textbook Brokers and partner stores own and operate on-campus and off-campus college textbook stores across the country. The Arkansas-based company’s flagship store is in Arkadelphia. In business 13 years, the bookseller has more than 60 stores in the United States with 10 additional stores opening or set to open this year.

The Mesa State College Bookstore has some new competition.

Textbook Brokers, a 58-store chain based in the southeastern United States, opened its 1144 N. 12th St. location Monday. The spot previously housed Valley Vision Center, which relocated to the ground floor retail shops in the North Avenue Residence Hall on Mesa State’s campus.

Grand Junction and Greeley recently became the first two cities in Colorado to open Textbook Brokers locations.

Tyler Green, owner of the Grand Junction store, said the chain is known for selling books for cheap prices and offering more money than most college or university stores to buy books back.

Having mostly used books and the ability to buy back most books and ship them to another store if they’re no longer used in local classes is the key to the store’s strategy, Green said.

“It’s all about saving money,” Green said. “(Students) won’t come over here unless they have a good reason to.”

Green said a little competition with college bookstores is healthy and results in more choices for students.

The store will stock books and materials for all Mesa State classes next semester and is buying back textbooks as this semester comes to a close.

“We’ve already had lots of students come by,” Green said, motioning to three knee-high stacks of books sold to the store in its first four days of operation.

The college bookstore can’t compete much when it comes to pricing, according to Mesa State Bookstore General Manager Tracy Brodrick, because the margin of earnings for the store already is low on textbooks.

The college has an edge against a private store, Brodrick said, in that students can switch out books more easily with the college bookstore if a student drops a class and needs to return books for full price, and the store also has the advantage of book rentals, which have been available at the college for two years.

Brodrick said she worked at other college bookstores that had competition move in nearby.

She said whether it’s a brick-and-mortar bookseller or online competition, having to compete with an entity for market share always means re-evaluating business strategy and preparing for some, but not all, customers to look elsewhere.

“The strategy is to continue doing what we do best,” Brodrick said. “What we do best is offer the most complete one-stop shopping.”

Competition from the online sector is just starting to die down for bookstores, Brodrick said.

Cheap books could be found online when individuals didn’t know how to price their books, but Brodrick said individuals are getting more savvy about the true worth of their textbooks and pricing them appropriately.

“It’s evening out a little bit. More of the prices online are comparable with what we have,” Brodrick said.

Green agreed online sales aren’t as large a threat as they once were. Textbook Brokers checks online textbook pricing to make sure its in-store prices are the same or lower than books sold on the Web.

People who prefer shopping online have been able to reserve or purchase books on Mesa State Bookstore’s website for seven years.

Students can reserve books on Textbook Brokers’ site, but the site does not sell books.

First-year Mesa State student Aberlain Layel, 18, said she saw the marquee for Textbook Brokers recently but still plans to buy her books at the campus bookstore.

But she wouldn’t be surprised if some students walked across 12th Street to check out the new store.

“I’m sure a lot of people will look for a better price,” she said.


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