UBS enters online textbook market

Matt Kuhns

University Bookstore has expanded into the online textbook market this semester by offering textbooks on its Web site,

“This semester we have textbooks up and running,” said Lynette Seymour, general manager of UBS. “We’re hoping to move to having all of our inventory online.”

Ordering books from the UBS Web site is typical of other online purchases: Visitors search the site for the titles they need, pay for their orders using a credit card, and the books are shipped to them.

The base shipping fee for UBS orders is $2 for an order of any size. Seymour said orders generally will arrive within two to three business days.

Before starting this program, UBS worked to make sure online transactions would be secure.

“We want people to know it’s safe to do this,” Seymour said.

So far, Seymour said she has been pleased with the online sales program.

“Within 10 minutes we had our first order,” she said, adding that orders through the site have been received from out of town as well as Ames and the residence halls.

UBS’s textbook reservation program currently is available to incoming freshmen. “We’re looking at expanding to reservation for everyone,” she said.

Seymour said by incorporating textbook reservation into its Web site, UBS will provide an option for students who want to ensure that they receive their books but cannot put them on a credit card.

Although online textbook sales are a fairly recent phenomenon, the industry is growing quickly, said Tim Levy, chairman and co-founder of the online textbook seller

He predicted that within three years, half of all textbooks will be sold through the Internet.

Levy said one of the main advantages to buying textbooks on the Web is the convenience. “Shopping online is faster and easier than going to the bookstore,” he said. “Why deal with the crowds and lines and dragging books across campus?”

While stores such as and, another Internet textbook business, tout their low prices, UBS promotes the advantages of being a local business.

Seymour said one of those advantages is the option to return unwanted textbooks directly to the bookstore rather than repackaging and shipping them across the country.