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Release: Aug. 24, 1999

UI Book Store e-commerce feature allows textbook purchases via the Web

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University Book Store in the Iowa Memorial Union this week debuts its e-commerce Web site, allowing UI students to purchase or reserve textbooks online, making the on-campus bookseller a competitor in the sale of textbooks via the Internet.

George Herbert, Jr., manager, University Book Store, says yesterday’s unveiling of the new Web feature provides previously unavailable services to students who will now be able to buy online new and used textbooks, reserve and search for texts required for various courses. The site, which contains secure transaction features, will allow students to charge their purchases against their credit card or reserve books for in-store pickup. Students will be able to charge online purchases to their U-bill at a later date.

The e-commerce move is in response to the evolving consumer online shopping preferences created by the Internet. The e-commerce feature is the latest enhancement to the Book Store's Web site launched nearly five years ago, which until now, has only listed textbooks and limited online patrons to buying UI apparel.

The Iowa Memorial Union marketing department will begin a marketing campaign: "Why So Many Smart Students Buy Their Textbooks From Us" this fall to inform the UI community about the new service and the benefits the store provides with both a physical and virtual presence.

"This is a large project for the Book Store. Within the last year we've seen major online textbook providers go from zero to perhaps as many as eight," Herbert says.

"We'll offer one-stop shopping, convenience of returns, and buybacks. There will be no charge for in-store pickup, and online patrons can have their books shipped to them at a nominal cost. The number of days between online purchase and delivery will depend on whether a book is in stock," Herbert says.

The online sales feature is critical to the Book Store increasing its service levels, and it is a good way to meld the "brick-and-mortar store" with the online store, Herbert says.

The success of the online sales can't be judged in terms of dollar amounts, Herbert says, adding he doesn't know how much revenue he expects the e-commerce site to generate.

"If the site assists our students in getting their textbooks or brings additional people to us, that's a success," he says.

The site can be accessed at