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University Store introduces new services

Credit: Sky Gao/ Credit: Sky Gao/

The Carnegie Mellon University Store has implemented new services which will make the purchase of textbooks more convenient for students.

At the beginning of the fall semester, the bookstore began to offer a rental service for books.

Although the new service was not heavily marketed to students, Matt Senvisky, the textbooks and trade books manager at the University Store, said, “Renting textbooks has really picked up. We are trying to get the word out there so that students can be aware of all their options so they can make the best decision.”

Students can select a rental option on the bookstore’s website. They can then designate the duration of their rental, which will determine the price.

The longer the rental period, the higher the cost. This flexibility with timing is convenient for those instances where students’ purchased textbooks take longer than anticipated to arrive or they become temporarily lost in the mail.

In addition to the textbook rental option, the University Store has a new partnership with several websites that sell and rent textbooks, including Amazon.com.

The affiliation will provide students with a real-time listing of the pricing of a textbook from various sources.

Senvisky said that the new partnership is exciting.

“It will allow students to compare the prices of textbooks at once. Amazon has covered the market. We are at the mercy of Amazon. By going through the University Store’s website to Amazon, the University Store receives a small percent of the sale. It starts at 2 percent and then increases if the traffic increases,” Senvisky said.

He said that, although he has only been in his current position for a year, he is aware that the University Store has a bad reputation when it comes to the sale of textbooks. This is a misunderstanding that he wants to eliminate.

“We really care about the students and want to help them out as much as we can. I am fighting with the publishers to lower their prices,” he said.

“Everyone assumes we are the bad guys, but the prices are set by the publishers. We are really just trying to help out the students,” said Juan Lafontaine, a full-time University Store employee.

University Store employee Mike Dingman said, “This new option will create more options for students while helping [the University Store] out. You guys need us. We are here when you need last-minute supplies for your projects.”

The University Store has tabled in the University Center to advertise the textbook rental service and the new pricing comparison window offered on its website. They offered a variety of large portions of free popcorn, and will continue tabling in the University Center on Nov. 29 and Nov. 30.

After picking up a cup of free popcorn, first-year English major Vanessa Branch said, “I think the new options are really helpful. It’s awesome. You are still getting your books at a cheap price while helping out the bookstore.”

Students will not lose much by using the University Store’s website to purchase their textbooks, even if they plan on using Amazon.com or some other competitor. By going through the University Store’s website, students will help the University Store to remain afloat as it, “...treads water because of the changing market,” as Senvisky said. Textbook purchases will be the exact same cost as if students were to directly purchase from a competitor’s website.

“I am excited about the changes, and now it is a matter of getting the word out there,” Senvisky said.