York University Bookstores offer deals to offset the surging loonie

The York University Bookstores are offering cheaper prices on many books to reflect Canada’s surging loonie against the US greenback.

For the months of November, December and January, 10 per cent is being knocked off all non-course trade books and all trade books by York authors are 25 per cent off list prices. That’s only one of the deals being offered.

"We are listening to our customers who said the price of the books in Canada isn’t fair," said Steve Glassman, director of York University Bookstores.

In reaction, York is offering a number of promotions and decreasing the price of books wherever possible, even if it means taking a hit by doing so.

"We’re saying, shop here with confidence, we’re doing everything possible to get the best possible selling price," Glassman said.

York, along with other Canadian booksellers and campus stores, has pressured Canadian publishers and distributers to lower their prices with the Canadian dollar now worth more than its American counterpart.

"We’re fighting for our students," said Glassman. "We’re doing everything possible to give the students a fair break."

Right: York University Bookstore in York Lanes

Some distributors have agreed to price imports at par, while some are re-pricing as the situation continues to change. One publisher even told York to go ahead and lower the prices on its books, even though they were bought at the higher price. The publisher then sent a cheque to York University Bookstores to reimburse any losses.

Glassman is well aware that the cost of books takes a big chunk out of a university student’s budget and is trying lessen that load. He says York’s bookstores do not profit from the increased strength of the Canadian dollar. The bookstores are also offering a number of initiatives. If they get a book at a better price, that book will be sold for less, even if there is still higher priced inventory. York University Bookstores will re-price any textbooks whenever a price victory is gained, Glassman said.

"We’re making this rather unusual move of saying, ‘you know what, the price has gone down, let’s re-price the rest of the inventory to reflect that’," Glassman said. "And we won’t increase the price on existing text inventory mid-term even if subsequent books are bought at higher prices."

Text shelf tags are being used so prices can be changed quickly, rather than putting new price stickers on each time the price drops.

Left: The York University Bookstore in York Lanes gets ready for the holiday season

In addition, the books in this season’s "Books that Matter" catalogue of recent titles will also be cut by 25 per cent off list prices and all hardcover fiction will continue to be 25 per cent off the Canadian list price.

Glassman hopes the move will encourage holiday shoppers to choose books to give as gifts this year.

There will also be free shipping on trade book orders over $30 ordered through the York University Bookstores Web site for orders shipped to destinations in Southern Ontario. (Promotional discounts cannot be combined.)

 There are several reasons why books didn’t go down in price right away, Glassman said. The problem with instantly marking all books at the same list price at the US, is that many retailers and wholesalers purchased inventory before the Canadian dollar rose. The other issue is that although Canadian distributors price books based on prevailing exchange rates, the books already have Canadian cover prices and Canadian publishers may add a percentage on top of the conversion to allow for rate fluctuations over the life of the print run and to cover freight and brokerage charges.

York University Bookstores will continue to monitor industry developments to make books more affordable permanently and to use promotions to narrow the gap.

If you have something to say about the matter then e-mail York University Bookstores at bookstor@yorku.ca.  York University Bookstores will pass on all opinions to publishers and industry advocacy groups.