"No department is operating at a loss," Murphy says. "All the departments, including textbooks, contribute to overhead."
The textbook Introduction to Organic Chemistry, 4th ed., by Streitwiser, Heathcock and Kasower, sells for $86.50 at the Coop. At the Boston University (B.U.) bookstore, it sell for a significantly lower $77.33, although it is not normally in stock. At the Yale Co-op, it sells for $77.00.
Another textbooks, the second edition of General Physics by Sternheim and Kane, sells for $80.75 at the Coop and $80.00 at the B.U. bookstore.
Murphy says selling textbooks is a "deceptively" expensive production.
"There is a lot of overhead involved in that operation--it is very deceptive." Murphy says.
"It would be a much more effective operation if [the College] went to preregistration," he adds.
Many professors also do not return their book requests on time, Murphy says.
One former Coop director says the Coop is not in the textbook business for money, but because the Coop is a University store, it must sell texts.
"As much as we complain about the cost of textbooks, the textbook business is not terribly profitable," says Doug Ulene, a Coop director in 1988-89 and a 1989 Harvard Law School graduate.
Other departments vary in their competitiveness, according to the Crimson price comparison.
"We're always perceived as being overpriced in insignia, [but] we give 15 percent off on a daily basis to students and faculty [who are members]," Murphy says.
When compared with J. August, a store on Mass. Ave which sells Harvard-geared products, the Coop's prices were much better on a sweatshirt while slightly higher on a T-shirt.
But even Murphy may be surprised by some of his departments low prices.
"In housewares, in health and beauty aids, in CVS-type goods, we're not competitive," Murphy says.
Murphy was right about the housewares, but in CVS-type goods, the Coop came out nearly identical or better.