Co-op bookstores to close as students buy textbooks online using Afterpay

By Polly Fleeting ·

If you’re a uni student, or used to be one, chances are you’ve stepped into a Co-op bookstore (or at least walked past one). 

Well, as of this year, Aussies will bid farewell to all 34 university Co-ops as online book retailer Booktopia bought out the company after it went under last year. 

But why are they shutting down stores? 

One of the answers? Afterpay.  

Booktopia is currently the largest retailer in tertiary textbooks across the country, it  operates 100% online and has a partnership with Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) service, Afterpay.  

The company’s Chief Executive, Tony Nash, told the Australian Financial Review that customers opting to use Afterpay on the site was one of the driving forces to boost them to being the most popular location for students to buy textbooks. 

According to the University of Sydney’s website, the university recommends students put away at least $500 for “Academic Support” expenses - which consists of textbooks. 

“Textbooks for uni students can be one of the biggest costs at the beginning of the semester, especially when buying multiple books at once,” Mozo Director, Kirsty Lamont said. 

“It’s no wonder students are opting to use Buy Now Pay Later to fund this upfront cost - it’s just important that for those students who decide to use these services that they can realistically make every repayment as they roll around. If not, they may be better off looking for a cheaper secondhand book or even checking out the price of an ebook.” 

RELATED ARTICLE: Buy now, pay later platforms expected to sign code of conduct to protect vulnerable customers 

But don’t worry, if you still love the feel and smell and buying books in-store, you don’t have to go cold turkey right away. 

To make the transition a little easier for students, Booktopia has decided to keep Co-ops open for the first four weeks of the first semester of 2020. 

Tips for cutting uni textbook costs 

While using BNPL can be an effective way to spread the cost of uni textbooks for some, it’s usually best to avoid doing this if you don’t think you’ll be able to make your repayments later on or you’ve got previous purchases to pay off first. 

So here are some other tips on how to make purchasing textbooks a little lighter on your wallet:  

  • Opt for secondhand: While a brand new shiny cover and untouched pages can be pretty tempting, by choosing to buy textbooks second hand you could really reduce the amount you pay. Check out online websites, ask past students and also look outside of your university - there may be a course at another uni that used the same book. 
  • Sell your old books: Just like buying secondhand, why not sell second hand! What better way to offset the cost of the textbooks you have to buy for this semester, by selling last semester’s.   
  • Try ebooks: Generally speaking, ebooks are cheaper than paperbacks. So if you want to kick out the old school and switch to digital, it could be the more financially savvy option.  
  • Share with a classmate: Got a uni wife or husband? Why not share a textbook with them, that way you only have to pay half each.  

RELATED ARTICLE:  What happens if I have HECS-HELP debt while working overseas? 

Want to know more about student finances? Jump over to our student hub for the latest news and useful guides.