PSU Bookstore: greedy?

With the promise of increased tuition on the horizon, students need to pinch every penny. And what better way to start than with textbooks? Used books can save a fortune. Not only that, but sometimes they are already marked up with loads of useful information. It’s a no-lose situation! Listed below is a comparison of five major booksellers. In the interest of simplicity, we’ll search for a textbook from a class that many PSU students may find useful at some point in their college careers, WR 222: Writing Research Papers, which requires the third edition of “The Curious Researcher: A Guide to Writing Research Papers.” All prices are for used copies.

Portland State Bookstore

1715 S.W. Fifth Ave.

What it is: A self-supporting cooperative that is composed of members who are PSU students, staff, faculty and alumni.

Price: $22.80

Ease of access: Long lines can be a problem the first few days of the term. Shopping before classes begin in-store or online can be less stressful and time consuming.

Quality of selection: Books run the gamut from pristine to lightly- used to seen-better-days. Come early for the best quality books.

Powell’s City of Books

1005 W. Burnside

Powell’s Books on Hawthorne

3723 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd.

What it is: An independent Portland book giant with seven stores and a Web business.

Price: As low as $11.95

Ease of access: By visiting the Web site and checking available titles, you can avoid searching the stores in person. If the title is in stock, you can either have it shipped or head down to the store yourself (store and shelf locations are provided).

Quality of selection: Of the several copies listed, all were in “standard” condition, which Powell’s defines as “books in good or better condition, free of writing or other markings in the text.”

What it is: According to the Web site, “, an eBay company, offers people a fixed-price, online marketplace to buy and sell high quality, new, overstocked, remaindered and used products at discounted prices.”

Price: As low as $4.39 (plus $2.79 shipping and handling)

Ease of access: Typing in title, author, keyword or ISBN will bring up a list of third-party sellers. To buy a copy, simply click on the “Buy!” icon to proceed to checkout. If you’re not already registered with or eBay, you must complete a short registration form.

Quality of selection: Based on owner comments, the copies are divided into one of five categories, ranging from “Brand New” to “Acceptable.” Of the 146 copies listed, the quality ranges from never used ($9.57) to slightly dog-eared ($6.50).

What it is: An on-line megastore with “10 million products with savings of up to 75 percent.”

Price: As low as $8 (plus$2.49-$4.99 for shipping and handling)

Ease of access: Type in ISBN, author, title or subject to pull up availability. This search yields 62 choices listed by price. Condition information and comments from past buyers are helpful.

Quality of selection: These sellers have nary a bad thing to say about their books with ratings ranging from “like new” to “good.”

Other: Make sure to read the comments on the seller. Critiques from past buyers are sometimes scathing. The most common complaints are about shipping problems. Of the $8 seller, a buyer posts “I need my damn book for class. I’ll never do this again. Ridiculous!”

What it is: A search site that culls the lowest prices from more than two dozen online booksellers and provides links to them.

Price: As low as $7.38 from (includes shipping and handling)

Ease of access: Varies. The site itself is easy. Just type in your book information and receive a list of the best prices on the Web. A click on the “Buy It” icon, however, takes you to various sites, depending on the book you choose.

Quality of selection: Varies. Both new and used titles are listed.

Other sites to check out:,,,,,,