Campus bookstores not the only choice for books

College memories last a lifetime, but unfortunately one of those memories is the price of textbooks. After working the summer away in retail, I was horrified when I arrived at Temple two years ago to

College memories last a lifetime, but unfortunately one of those memories is the price of textbooks.

After working the summer away in retail, I was horrified when I arrived at Temple two years ago to pay over $300 in textbooks. My last two checks were gone quicker than one could say “Diamond Dollars.”

As a naive freshman, I made poor choices. A senior was appalled at the fact that I was heading to the campus bookstore and walked me to Zavelle’s instead.

At Zavelle’s, I bought my books at a cheaper price than the campus bookstore offers.

Four months later, I took that fateful bookstore walk to sell back textbooks. At the campus bookstore, I read the sign that specifically said, “Our buyback pricing is based on two criteria: We can pay you 50% of the original selling price if the professor has told us the book will be used again the following term and we still require more to meet demand. If this is not the case, we will be happy to give you the latest national pricing.”

After standing in line for almost an hour, I was furious to discover three of my books could not be sold at all.

Entering the bookstore with no money whatsoever, I left with five bucks.
Zavelle’s wasn’t much better, adding another dollar to my lonely wallet as my car reaped the profits and I drove home with less money than I had at the beginning of the semester.

Buying books on a budget took on a whole new meaning with Intellectual Heritage.

I was never fond of buying eight books for one class, especially since we would only use them for two weeks each. After buying four books, I finally grasped the old and overused idea of the library.

Common sense told me that everyone would be flocking to Paley Library, so I looked to my local library at home. Since I only needed the books for certain weeks throughout the semester, I would check out a few books at a time.

Every time I came home, I brought old books home and checked new ones out.

As my years at Temple continued, I began doing this for all my classes. In the rare event that I actually needed a book for the whole semester, I would check it out for six weeks, my library limit, return it, and then check it out again the next day.

Some people don’t live close enough to go to their local library. Even they can follow in the footsteps of some people I know who buy the book, copy the chapters they need and then return it immediately afterward.
There are some books professors have assigned that I couldn’t find at my local library.

But even these I could buy from online sites such as Amazon or Bookfinder. However, I still had bookstore rejects from freshman year, which I no longer wanted.

Since I purchased from Amazon occasionally, I decided to put my bookstore rejects up for sale.

I was not sure if anyone would buy them, since they were now two years old, and two new editions have been made since then. To my surprise, they all sold for almost the same price I paid for them.

The campus bookstore’s Web site describes the breakdown of textbook profits as the publisher earning 67 percent, the author nine percent, the freight company 2.5 percent, Temple University nine percent while the bookstore earns 12.5 percent.

This just adds consolation since the authors are getting ripped off as much as students are.

Some universities recognize the cost of textbooks as a financial issue. Both schools rent textbooks to students for a fee in included with the price of tuition.

For instance, at Eastern Illinois University the fee is $95, with a $10 charge if the books are damaged upon return. But even schools implementing the rental system make students buy special expensive course packets.

Likewise, some Temple professors are sympathetic to the high prices as well, letting students borrow their books if unable to afford the textbook.
Maybe in the future, Temple could join the few universities using the rental system. But by Temple’s logic, that would probably mean raising tuition.

Stephanie Young can be reached at

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