It's not your mama's college store.
"The industry has changed," Pirate Bookstore overseer Rhonda Green said. Looking for a Pirates T-shirt? Try pink thermals and sweats.
"We were looking for the hottest things, but low price point -- the Wal-Mart concept. We'll see how it goes," Green said as the store braced for business last week.
Pencils and notebooks still are steady sellers, but gadgets and gizmos are staples now, too.
The top seller might be the i-clicker. It's a $38 transmitter professors use to give pop quizzes in real time.
Students bring their oblong, multikey boxes to class. The teacher asks a question and students click their answers. The instructor has instant feedback on how well a concept was understood, store textbook buyer Joan Ferrell said. The bookstore also has a buy-back program for these newly essential gadgets.
Old-fashioned books still line the shelves, but today tech-savvy texts and selling strategies offer alternatives and lower prices, Ferrell said.
• BUY A BOOK: Old-fashioned, but still the best route for those who like to scribble and highlight their way through chapters. The down side is cost.
• RENT A TEXT: This strategy is being offered for one biology, one math and two psychology textbooks that cost $105 to $157 new, but $42 to $64 to rent, Ferrell said. They must be returned in near-new condition by the end of finals week, or the renter pays up to full price.
• E-BOOKS: Buyers take a plasticized strip to the counter and purchase an access number allowing a single download to print or a subscription to the book online for roughly one semester's time.
"That way, they can access it on a computer at home, their laptop, their iPad -- wherever they need it," Ferrell said. Convenience and cost are driving the market, she said, pointing out a $212 chemistry text also sold as an e-book for $120.
• BUNDLED: These paper textbooks come with online labs or workbooks.
• LOOSE-LEAF: Books without bindings cost 30 percent less and offer a way for students to take just one section to class or keep in a binder. They are not eligible to be sold back, however, Ferrell said.
• CUSTOM: Some publishers offer content buffet style. Instructors pick which chapters they want for their class. The bound books are distinguished by a "Modesto Junior College" stamped on the cover.
• RECYCLE-REUSE: Textbooks can be sold back any time during the year, Green said. The best prices are for needed textbooks just before the new semester, but the store is also part of a wholesale network, she said. Used textbooks are much cheaper than new.
• GO ONLINE: Students can go online for textbooks, but it takes a careful hunt to get the right title and edition.
• OFF-CAMPUS COMPETITION: A private store offering textbooks opened last year across Tully from the east campus.
"We have used books, primarily," said salesperson Annie Huynh at the Off Campus Bookstore. The store does not offer e-books or loose-leaf books, she said.