UW Bookstore experimenting with online texbooks

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by DEBORAH FELDMAN / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on May 4, 2010 at 9:07 AM

Updated Wednesday, May 5 at 7:51 AM

SEATTLE -- The University of Washington Bookstore is broadening its horizons from selling books to actually making books. It's just one way they're cutting down on the price of textbooks and a new alternative for students trying to save a bit of money.

It's no secret students despise spending up to $200 on a single textbook.

"Since the beginning of time, students have complained about the price of textbooks," says Bryan Pearce, the CEO of University Bookstore at the UW. "And typically the book store is blamed because we're the messenger. Even though, quite frankly, it's one of the lowest profit categories we have."

That's why university bookstore is tapping into the latest technologies to provide some new options. One obvious one is digital books. They cost about half the price of a new paper book but cannot be sold back at the end of the year.

The store is also collaborating with a new company to provide free access to digital textbooks, with the option of printing individual chapters for just a few dollars. Additionally, they recently installed a new 'Espresso Book Machine'. It's an in-store printing press that allows them to print and bind millions of book titles on demand.

"It's a marvelous solution because not only are we able to provide the book at that very day that the demand exists, but we're also becoming much more environmentally friendly in terms of the amount of paper that's used, how much gets sent back to the publisher, which is about zero. And there are no freight costs because it all happens digitally, we provide the book here on site," said Pearce.

 

"That would be huge!" said one UW student of the savings. "That would be a lot of other bills that I could pay and not worry about!"
 
The books printed in store are all soft-cover and look and feel like books from the publisher. The biggest difference is some can be made from recycled paper and can cost up to 70-percent less than the glossy hardcover books.

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