The Idaho State University Bookstore is your resource for textbooks, Bengal gear and more! We have some detailed advice for incoming freshman to help make buying textbooks simple. We have tips for Bookstore Lingo, Buying Textbooks Online, Reading Shelf Tags and Frequently Asked Questions. Our post is pretty thorough, but if you still have questions please give us a call at 282.3237.

Bookstore Lingo

  • Required– this means your professor has requested the bookstore carry/sell the title for his course. He plans on using it during class instruction.
  • Recommended– this title will help you succeed in class but your professor will not refer to the book in his class instruction. Typically these titles are study guides or solution manuals.
  • Optional or Suggested– these titles are typically subject related and again your instructor will not refer to them during class instruction, but they too can help you succeed in your course. Typically these titles are BarCharts: an easy to view folder that is a quick reference to the subject as it has all important subject facts in one area.

Buying Textbooks Online

Many students find the easiest way to receive textbook information for their courses is by going through BengalWeb. Find your books by going to “Academic Tools” then “concise class schedule.”  Once you are there, scroll to the bottom where you will see a link “Buy Pocatello Books”. Once clicked, you will be re-directed to the bookstore’s website ( All your books for your courses will be pre-populated into one area. You can not only use this list to budget for your course expenses, but you can also order your books from this site. Please note that when viewing the inventory online it is company-wide. For example, a used book can be ordered via online but may not physically come from the University Bookstore. (the bookstore is part of Follett and we have over 1200 college bookstores that we operate). When purchasing online you can choose to do an “in-store” pick-up meaning you will pick-up your order at the bookstore, or you can have the order shipped to your house (with a $7.50 shipping fee).

Buying Textbooks In-store & Reading Shelf Tags

  • Textbooks are shelved in alphabetical order by the department and then numerically by the course number. An easy way to get your bearings in the store is to look at the top of the shelving units; you’ll notice the department abbreviations above each section. The departments alphabetically snake their way around the aisles.
  • Start looking for your shelf tag. Match your department, course number, and IMG_4613section number to the shelf tag. For example, look at the shelf tag here. Department- MUSC. Course Number- 1103. Section- 01.
  • Read the shelf tag! It has some important information on it. Basically it informs you on everything you need to know about what book to buy and how much it is.
  • Textbooks are above each shelf tag. We can also have some overstock located on the bottom shelf or at the end of each aisle.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Students ask for textbooks by the course title or they have looked up the course and know the title of the book and ask for it by title. The bookstore has over 2000 titles so it’s pretty hard for us to know where that title is located on our shelves, but if you can give us the department and course number we can easily find what you need for your class.
  • The shelf tag has a used price on it but there are no used books. What’s up with that?? It’s just our systems management; our system knows there is a 25% difference between a new/used book so it puts that on the shelf tag. Not every book will be available used due to edition, access codes, or just plain stock availability. Shop early for best selection of used books.
  • Why would I want to rent a book? Instant savings!! You pay a reduced cost up front but you have to remember to bring the book(s) back at the end of the semester otherwise it is going to cost you more money in what we call a non-return charge.
  • Ok, so why aren’t all books available as a rental? Some books have components in them like access codes that make it a one person purchase; the next student cannot use your access code. Some books are loose leaf or have perforated pages that are meant to tear out. Again the next student cannot use a book with missing pages. Sometimes the edition comes into play too, where we can rent a used copy, but not a new copy.
  • I see where some books are available in a digital format; what does that mean? A digital book is typically referred to as an ebook. Don’t confuse digital textbooks with Kindle-they are different. You cannot use your Kindle to access digital textbooks. You would access the book online either through the publishers website or through the bookstore’s source BryteWave. Digital books required a user name and password and cannot be shared amongst students.
  • What about refunds? Textbooks have a limited refund period because, let’s face it, they also have a limited sell through period. The bookstore wants to have the books available when most students are looking for them so we have a refund period of 10 days from when classes start. Because there are multiple vendors out there that sell textbooks, you must have your receipt to get a refund from the bookstore.
  • How come books are so expensive? We feel your pain. We agree that textbooks can be expensive and to help you save the bookstore tries to offer as many choices as possible: you can save 25% by buying a used book, you can save up to 50% by renting or purchasing a digital version. AND WE PRICE MATCH! Also keep in mind that we do buy back your unwanted textbooks, making the net cost less. But back to your question “Why are books so expensive?” The answer is multiple fold and it adds up to the retail that you pay. It starts with production costs that include anything from buying raw material to paying royalties to the authors. After all that the publisher sell s the book to us at a certain cost and then the bookstore needs to make a profit (that’s how we pay our employees and give back to the University) so we take our mark-up and that adds up to the retail.
  • Whoa…you mentioned the bookstore matches prices on textbooks? IMG_4610The bookstore will price match against Amazon Prime, Barnes and Noble, and local brick and mortar competitors. The price match is in the form of a gift card that can be used for any future bookstore purchase. The title has to be the same ISBN (or package we offer), the same condition, and in-stock at the vendor we are price matching against.

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