USM Bookstores

Frequently Asked Questions

What books do I need?

What Is a Coursepack?
How can I get them? What do I do with books if I drop the class?
I'm a Freshman - what's the easiest way for me to get my books? What is the return policy?
Why are books so expensive?  
Should I buy new or used? A book I need is sold out, what do I do?
Why is there a used price on the booklist and on the shelftags if there aren't any used books? What do I do with my books when the semester is over?
Why isn't there a used copy of this textbook? What is Textbook Buyback?
How much money can I get for my books?
Recommended / Optional, what is the difference? My book has been stolen, what do I do?!
How can I save money on my books? What are some tips to prevent my book from being stolen?
Do I really need these books? My question is not here..
Do you sell software?  

What books do I need?
Your professors let us know what books they want to use for their classes. We put this information into our computer. A booklist is generated and viewable online. Clicking on the link at the bottom of that page will allow you to view the booklist.
This information is available in our stores as well. Books in this list are the correct titles and editions ordered by the professors.

How can I get them?
You may place your order directly online using the booklist; you can call us, or stop into our stores. The Gorham store carries titles for Gorham classes. The Lewiston store carries titles for Lewiston classes. The Portland store carries titles for Portland AND Gorham classes. If you need books from more than one of our stores, only one phone call is necessary because we can get the books you need from one of our other stores sent to the store nearest you. For a shipping fee, we can send them directly to your home as well!

I'm a Freshman - what's the easiest way for me to get my books?
Welcome to USM! We have found that the easiest method for new students is to place their order through our website. We gather the books, box them up, and send them to your home or to the store location of your choice. This can take a lot of stress off of you during your adjustment to campus life. Once you are more familiar with your classes and textbooks, you may wish to browse our aisles and find them for yourself. If you come into one of our stores, our employees are all too eager to teach you how to read the shelf tags.

Why are books so expensive?
The initial sticker shock that most new college students experience occurs because they are accustomed to getting their books for free in High School. Also, they are accustomed to paying between $7 and $15 for trade paperback books.

An important thing to remember is that textbooks are not like regular books. Here's why: A $12.95 book on pet training will help you heel a dog. A $229.00 book on anatomy will help you heal a human. Think about how they help you reach your educational goal. They supplement and enhance classroom instruction, provide a common platform for discussion, offer additional references/perspectives and are excellent review tools. Finally, unlike general books, you can sell your textbooks back to us for cash!
For more information, check out this graphic that shows you where the Textbook Dollar goes.

Should I buy new or used?
While some may want new textbooks free from marks and highlighting, others may prefer to save up to 25% by purchasing used textbooks. It is our goal to stock as many used textbooks as possible, but because of the savings, they're in high demand. So hurry in, shop early, and save money.

Why is there a used price on the booklist and on the shelftags if there aren't any used books?
Our computer creates a new & used price for every title whether used copies are available or not. This is an automatic default setting that cannot be changed. Some items such as special packages, coursepacks, and lab manuals are never available as used.

Why isn't there a used copy of this textbook?

The USM Bookstores stock as many used books for USM classes as we can get our hands on. Used books cannot be made to order; someone has to have purchased a book new at some point and then sold it back to their bookstore or to a wholesaler before it can become a used book.
When a book goes into a new edition, it is impossible to get used books for that edition until after the first term it is used. Most textbooks are revised every two to three years.

Recommended / Optional, what is the difference?
Recommended and optional titles are study aids and are not required to complete the course work. Recommended titles are books that the professor suggests as supplemental reading. Optional texts are generally study guides and study manuals that will not be used in class. Should you have questions about purchasing these titles, please go to class first.

How can I save money on my books?
Shop early before the used books are gone. Shop savvy and learn to compare prices. Share a book with a friend, but make sure to set the ground rules on who gets it when and for how long. Keep your reciepts so you don't get stuck with something you don't need. Don't lend your book out to people you don't trust. Take precautions to keep your books from being stolen so you don't have to buy books a second time.
Due to the high cost and value of textbooks, the USM Library cannot stock all books that USM Professors use in their classes. The Library does, however, offer magnificent resources for when you need to research for a paper or project. Instead of buying a book on Puppet Theatre, you can go to the library and borrow ten books on the subject. (That's what I did in 1999!)

Do I Really Need These Books ?
One good way to keep a high GPA is to buy your textbooks. They are a great resource and can really be helpful in studying for exams. Add class attendance coupled with plenty of study time, and you should do great in your classes. Some students try to go without their textbooks, but more often than not, end up rushing in to buy them before an open book test, midterms, or finals, paying the same price they would have paid to have had their book the whole semester.
If you know you'll be needing a book later, don't wait too long to pick it up. The bookstores return their unsold stock to publishers about halfway through the semester. If you need a book after that point, you may have to wait a week for it to arrive.

Do you sell Software?
We no longer sell software in our stores.

To purchase software, please contact the Campus Computer Store:

The Campus Computer Store
144 Luther Bonney
Portland Campus

Phone: 780-4164
Fax: 780-4565

What is a Coursepack?

A coursepack is designed by your professor specifically for your course. It may include book excerpts, journal articles, or course notes. Some out-of print books are reproduced as coursepacks. The USM Print Shop obtains copyright authorization from the copyright holder to reproduce materials for classroom use and pays all copyright fees. Coursepacks are printed at USM Printing Services and sold at the Bookstores.
Even though they are in all respects bundles of photocopies, when we sell someone else's intellectual property, we have a legal and moral obligation to pay them for their work. Authors need to be paid for their work, and this includes academic material in coursepacks. Using material without paying for it is theft.

What do I do with books if I drop a class?
Firstly, keep your books in top condition until you are sure you are going to stay in a class. Don't open the shrinkwrap or write in any of your books until you are sure that you will be keeping them. Treat them gently so they don't get ripped or folded. If your book is not in the same condition as it was purchased, you might get less back for it than you paid, or nothing at all.

Secondly, as long as it is still within the return period at the beginning of the Fall or Spring Semester (Summer classes have a different return policy) you may return your book. Original Receipts are required for any return.

What Is The Return Policy?

Refunds can be obtained at any of our three locations, as long as the books were purchased from the USM Bookstores. Refunds are given for the current semester only, within the stated times for the term.  Returns are accepted within the first week of classes during the Fall and Spring Semesters.  After the first week, If you have dropped a class and have books to return, you may do so as long as you have your receipt AND the course drop slip, until the end of the second week of classes.
Summer Semester has it's own return policy.  A copy of the return policy should be stapled to your receipts.

Returns must be accompanied by a valid cash register receipt. It is the student's responsibility to keep their receipts.

New textbooks may be returned for a refund only if they are in new condition. Do not write in any new textbook or open shrink-wrapped packages before attending your first class! If you drop a class or otherwise decide you don't wish to keep a book, we will be unable to refund your money for a new text that has been marked or damaged, or a package which has been opened. Used books must be in the same condition as when purchased.

A book I need is sold out, what do I do?
Go to the customer service desk and they can place a special order for you. There is no extra charge to do this, however the book will need to be pre-paid.

What do I do with my books when the semester is over?
Some books you may want to keep as reference materials in your future profession. Or a book on grammar and punctuation can help you get good grades on all of your future papers. For all of those other books that you do not wish to keep we offer our Textbook Buyback program.

What is Textbook Buyback?
Students with a photo ID can bring books in anytime and try to sell them in the Portland, Gorham, and Lewiston stores.  To get the most money for them, we recommend selling your books during final exam week in December and May.  Before the official Buyback begins, posters will be posted around campus with the dates.  There will also be an ad in the Free Press.

We also have a website that you can use to sell your books online.
This website can be used year-round but please note that in-store prices during the official buy back periods are better.


How Much Money Can I Get For My Books?
The amount of cash you get depends almost entirely on what books professors have chosen to use for the following semester.  

-When a book is going to be used, we generally give 50% of the retail price, until we've bought back enough copies.  If it came as part of a package, bring in all the pieces if you have them.  
-If the book is not going to be used here at USM but has a national demand, we can buy for a textbook wholesaler that will give up to 35% of the retail price.
-If the book is not in demand, we cannot buy it.  It is a good idea however, to hold on to these kinds of books and try them again at the next Buyback.  If the book is an old edition, will will never be able to buy it.  We always have a donation box for no value books if you wish for your book to be sent to a country in need.  

We cannot buy water damaged books, instructor editions,
or books with missing covers.  

If your book is not being bought back, it may be because:
-The professor is choosing a new book.
-The course is being taught by a different professor, who is choosing a new book
-The course is offered in alternate years.
-The book is going into a new edition.
-The bookstore already has enough copies in stock.
-The bookstore has not yet heard that the book is being used again.

My book has been stolen, what do I do?!
Don't panic. We understand that not having your textbook can be a nightmare. You need to do two things: contact the Campus Police and the Bookstore.  Be prepared to list the name of each book and its unique identifying mark. (We'll talk about this more down below.) Also, it can be helpful to let your professor know that your book has been lost or stolen.  Often, they may be able to suggest optional ways for you to complete upcoming assignments, now that you are without a book.

What are some tips to prevent my book from being stolen?
-Marking Your Books
It is important that you have a way to identify a book as uniquely yours should it be lost or stolen.  It is not enough to write your name inside the front cover.   That name can be scratched out or erased.  It is also not enough to say that it was highlighted in pink or I wrote a lot of notes in chapter 2.   When a large quantity of the same text go through the buy-back counter at the end of the semester, these vague statements are of little use. Decide on a symbol, a word, or number that will be easy for you to remember.  Then decide on a page number.  On that page, in every one of your textbooks, lightly write in pencil that symbol, word, or number in the inner margin. 
-Treat Your Books Like Money
Bring only the books you need for the day to campus with you.
If you keep books in your car, keep them in the trunk or elsewhere out of view.   Make sure to keep your car locked.
Keep your books in sight at all times.  Books, backpacks and purses have disappeared from bathrooms when they were left on the sink or floor. Take the time to gather all of your belongings when you leave your classroom, study area, lounge, etc.
Most textbook thefts occur near Buyback, because theives will take advantage of getting cash for the books. This is why we require photo ID for when books are sold back to us so we have a record of who sold what to us. Take special care of your books during these times of the year.

My Question Is Not Here....
E-mail us at or call or stop by with your question. It could be that other people are wondering the same thing!