ASUC Store Begins Price War

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The ASUC Bookstore is looking to reel students in with a low-price guarantee offer.

The campus bookstore is refunding the difference in cash if a cheaper book is found in another store. The offer does not apply to bonus offers or online purchases.

ASUC officials worked with eFollett, the company that owns the bookstore, to offer the deal in an effort to capture a larger share of the UC Berkeley text-buying market.

The biggest competition is Ned's Bookstore across the street, which gets more foot traffic than the ASUC bookstore.

ASUC officials say they hope the new offer will start a buying war with Ned's.

"Our goal is to kind of nip at the whole perception of us being the more expensive place," said Greg Kiryakakis, Cal Student Store director. "We're putting our money where our mouth is."

The ASUC, which, according to ASUC Auxiliary Director Tom Cordi, gets a $1.75 million flat rate from the bookstore's revenue every year, distributes some of those funds to the hundreds of student groups on campus.

More students would shop at the ASUC bookstore if they knew the money is routed to student groups, said ASUC President Misha Leybovich, who negotiated the deal with eFollet.

The ASUC will also receive a commission once the revenue of the bookstore reaches $16 million, although it is unclear how much the ASUC would get. Last year, the bookstore made $14 million in revenue, Leybovich said.

Ned's Bookstore is not worried. The bookstore also offers a low-price guarantee, said General Manager Chris Weimer.

"This isn't a threat, because we always try to be lower anyway," he said.

Ned's has stores at five other campuses around the U.S. Many students say they like the mom-and-pop feel of Ned's bookstore.

"I like Ned's because it's not really associated with Cal, which I'm giving enough money to as it is," said Brian Manaois. "Ned's feels more like a small independent company."

Manaois was not aware of the low- price guarantee and did not know that the revenue from the bookstore gets routed to student groups.

Apart from the ASUC Student Store, eFollett has partnerships with more than 1,000 campuses nationwide and in Canada.

Leybovich said a survey that was done of the two stores revealed that the Cal Student Store was $2.70 cheaper on average.

But a look at the textbooks of the four largest classes on campus showed that Ned's was cheaper by a couple of dollars.


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