Barnes & Noble launches price-match program at college stores

With campus bookstores fighting to compete with affordable online retailers like Chegg and Amazon, a new price-matching program from Barnes & Noble College is being rolled out to thousands of students across North Carolina.

The price-match guarantee will be in effect through the first week of fall classes for used, new and rental textbooks. If a student finds a lower price on a textbook after it is purchased, he or she is eligible for a refund on the difference.

“That means that any student can show proof of a lower price from a national retail outlet at checkout on a book they want to purchase, and the Student Stores will match the price,” said Brad Ives, UNC-Chapel Hill’s associate vice chancellor for campus enterprises.

UNC announced in April that Barnes & Noble College would begin managing its bookstore July 1. Ives said Student Stores will offer students a 10 percent discount on new and used textbooks alongside the price-match guarantee.

B&N College also manages bookstores at Elon University and Wake Tech Community College.

“We learned how overwhelmed and stressed out the transition to college is,” said Lisa Malat, B&N College’s chief marketing officer. “Our focus is to take another thing off a student’s plate so they don’t have to worry about comparison shopping.”

B&N College President Patrick Maloney said he hopes the price-matching option will reduce student expenses and perceptions that campus bookstores are unaffordable. The price-match program initially began with a pilot in 70 to 80 schools but will soon extend to the majority of the B&N College’s 750 bookstores, he said.

For some students, though, the bookstore remains an unattractive option for finding the best prices.

“I usually get my textbooks on Amazon because the Student Stores is pretty expensive and they don’t have a lot of used copies,” said Rachel Crespi, a rising senior at UNC. “I just feel like it’s cheaper on Amazon or Chegg.”

For others, such as Gianna Quilici, a rising UNC junior public policy major, buying a textbook at a bookstore is more convenient since it can be ordered and received on the same day.

“It’s more about the convenience,” Quilici said. “I don’t have to wait for the book. I can just go upstairs and go pick it out.”

Bryan Anderson: 919-829-8934, @bryanranderson