About Textbooks


Because we are owned and operated by the College (and not some large, for-profit corporation), our goal is to control textbook costs--not to make a profit on textbooks. So, unlike most college bookstores, we discount a lot of textbooks. And there is NO SALES TAX on textbooks in Pennsylvania. So don't believe everything you read at the other on-line book sites. One-stop shopping with us (here on our web site or in the store) gives you WHAT you need WHEN you need it at COMPETITIVE PRICES from PEOPLE YOU KNOW (or will soon know!). You'll be assured that you'll have the correct editions of the books you need when you purchase from us. And, if you have to return a book, we'll give you your refund on the spot. You can save shipping charges by picking up your order or, if you prefer, we can ship your order to you. Remember, before you buy elsewhere, check with us!


Although book expenses obviously vary depending upon individual course choices and the requirements for those courses, you should expect to spend between $300 and $500 a semester for your books and supplies. Remember, books purchased at the Swarthmore College Bookstore for use in courses are exempt from Pennsylvania's sales tax.


We sell all textbooks at or below publishers' suggested list prices. Here is the full scoop:

  • Many textbooks are sold to us at list price less a 20% resale discount. We use the 20% margin to cover our expenses - freight, staff, cost of equipment, cost of returns, etc.
  • Some books are priced with a greater discount - sometimes 40% or even a little more. When we get a good discount, we pass the savings along to you in the form of a 10% discount (we still need to cover those operating costs and overstock return expenses).
  • Other books come "net priced" which means with a cost only. Most stores use a 25% margin to price these books. Some stores use 30% or even more. We use a 20% margin on these books. Again, the goal is to cover our expenses (freight, staff, cost of equipment, cost of returns, etc.) - not to make a profit on the sale of textbooks.
  • You also have the option of purchasing select books in digital form. These eBooks will be available through a web site developed for our campus. These eBooks will be prices with a 40% discount from the price of a new book.

Textbooks are expensive. They are also a very important component of your education. We want to get them into your hands in the most economical way possible. If you ever have any questions about the price of textbooks, please feel free to ask us. We strive to be totally "transparent" about what we do. We'll even show you our invoices if you're interested.
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