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Store offers textbook alternative

Store's book exchange program may help students save money

Posted: April 30, 2009 10:17 p.m.
Updated: May 1, 2009 8:00 a.m.

Brian Barnes, left, Jessica Goodman and Lauren Settle organize books at the newly opened SCV Book Exchange store Monday afternoon. The store offers students an opportunity to sell their books for more money than they would get by selling back to their school. The store is located in the Granary Square shopping center.

As the end of spring semester approaches, one new store is positioning itself to gobble up college students' used textbooks.

The SCV Book Exchange, located in the Granary Square shopping center, began buying books from students on Wednesday.

The store's employees, college and high-school students, are sporting T-shirts reading "Higher buy back, more money for your textbooks," and are attempting to infiltrate student gatherings with fliers to spread the word.

"Our book exchange is really designed to save people money in this economy," said Dana Kellstrom, the store's co-owner. "Santa Clarita has never had an off-campus book exchange. There's a lot of off-campus book stores other places. Out here, (students) never had a choice."

Kellstrom said the store's focus will be on used books, but it also will sell some new books, too. Kellstrom said the store's relationship with wholesalers allows the store to offer 10 to 20 percent more on return of used books than they might receive at college bookstores, and to charge students 10 to 20 percent less for purchases than on-campus stores might charge.

"It's designed to be a student-service organization," he said. "The price for textbooks is pretty expensive these days. If students can save 20 to 30 bucks, the kids are happy and their parents are happy."

Kellstrom, of Stevenson Ranch, is the owner of other textbook stores in Sacramento, Long Beach, and Riverside. As the father of high school and College of the Canyons students, he said he wanted to help his own family and friend's families. He is doing so, not only with a local textbook-store alternative, but also by offering jobs to about 25 students, he said.

Bob Somers, a COC student and store employee, said the book exchange will be a good alternative for students "during these harsh times" and good atmosphere to work in because "it will be run by all students."

Kellstrom said college bookstores don't usually see an alternative bookstore as a threat.

"If they're never going to use a book again, they're not looking to buy it back so they welcome us a lot of times," he said.

"It's not a competition thing," he said. "We sell used books and (college bookstores) sell mostly new books. At a campus store, you can't find enough used books."

Several phone calls to Barnes & Noble College Booksellers, which manages the College of the Canyons bookstore, were not returned.

The Master's College bookstore manager declined to comment. A California Institute of the Arts representative said the school does not have a campus bookstore because many of its arts classes don't require normal textbooks, according to Trish Patryla, budget administrator for the college's Provost's office.

Britheney Sapp, a veterinary student at College of the Canyons, believes students at the college will welcome the new alternative.
"With the high prices of textbooks, people don't buy books sometimes and then they don't pass their classes," she said. "I've done it a couple times and it didn't work."

Sapp said she often has to purchase books that are around $80 or $100, and yet when she sells them back, she will only receive $10 or $20 in return.

Sapp said the community college's bookstore probably will continue to sell books just fine because students need them, but she also said an alternative store will gain popularity.

In her experience, math books are the hardest to sell back, Sapp said.

"Sometimes they won't buy (a math book) back because it's paperback," she said.

College of the Canyons' student Robbie Mousselli echoed Sapp's comments about the new textbook exchange, which offers to buy back books all year round.

"It sounds legit," Mousselli said. "There's only a certain time you can return books here (at the college's store). Right now, if I tried to sell a book back here, I couldn't."

Kellstrom said by the time fall semester rolls around, he anticipates the store could carry up to 20,000 books. They will also try to buy back non-textbooks as well and donate some to underprivileged areas to set up libraries, he said.

The store is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and is located at 25870 McBean Parkway, Valencia.


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