Online texts may save students cash
By Sara Marett
Western students may soon have more options when it comes to where they buy their textbooks as an on-line bookstore plans to head this way.
TextExpress, an Ottawa-based company has "soft-launched" its services for nearby students and plans to expand to all of Ontario by Jan. 1998, said Alex de Bold, founder and owner of the on-line store.
In July of this year, de Bold's project was launched and since the school year has started business has been good, he said.
"We have an on-line catalogue of approximately 10,000 books and if what you're looking for is not there, we can find it on our database of 1.7 million books," he said.
De Bold explained the trick to helping his business survive is to sell books at 10 to 25 per cent less than typical on-campus book store prices. "Each bookstore sets their own prices and some sell books for higher than the suggested retail price," he said.
TextExpress obtains their merchandise straight from book publishers and charges a maximum of $4 for shipping and handling, de Bold said.
Donn Ekdahl, director of Western's Book Store, said the economics of a typical book store would make it difficult for TextExpress to sell books at a 10 to 25 per cent discount, particularly if the on-line company is absorbing shipping costs.
Assistant manager at the University of Ottawa book store Daniel Nolet, said he has not noticed a decline in sales since TextExpress has been in operation and for students, there is a negative aspect to the company. "They are probably saving money by not hiring students," he said, adding the Ottawa bookstore hires approximately 50 students each semester.
Alain Gauthier, president of the Student Federation at the University of Ottawa, said his organization allowed TextExpress to advertise in their Student Union Building during the first two weeks of school when the student federation had control over the commercial area. "We have no financial stake in our book store, so we welcomed competition."
When the on-line company does expand to our region, they will be able to advertise in Western's University Community Centre, even though the residing Used Book Store is owned by the University Students Council.
According to the UCC occupancy agreement, competing businesses are permitted to advertise within the UCC but are not allowed to sell their products on the premises.