Red bookstore regimes oppress students

FT. COLLINS, Colo. (U-WIRE) — Thank God that we have less than two weeks left of school. I can’t wait to head home and relax for the summer. I don’t know exactly where I will work or what I will do this summer, but it sure beats studying the implications of surplus government cheese and the rising European Union with regards to tropical fern life.
But in these final weeks of school, there are still some events going on. People are still searching desperately for courses to enroll in for the fall semester — “Umm … maybe I’ll enroll in CM702E: Flow Cytometry and Cell Sorting … yeah.”
Others are preparing to cram for finals week — the theme this year is “ARRGGGHH!” And once again, the People’s Republic of the Lory Student Center Bookstore becomes active. Why do I call the bookstore the “People’s Republic of the Bookstore,” you might ask? It’s simple. Ideally, the bookstore is supposed to be part of our great capitalist society. We go there to buy our books each semester and go back at the end of the year with all of our used texts, and sell them back at a fair percentage of the original price, adjusting for the quality they were returned in.
So if you paid $83 dollars for your calculus book, and didn’t open it more than three times, you should get back about one-half to two-thirds of the original price. If you used it to cover the bottom of your pet parrot’s cage, however, the $4.75 you would get back would be a very generous gesture.
For some reason, though, the bookstore hardly follows any of these standards. In my three years at CSU I have looked at the way they deal with students, and see unfairness when students return their books. Hence, I tend to equate it with a communist government.
In other words, Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” winds up giving all of us “the finger.”
The last time I went to the bookstore, I went up to the refund counter and had Secretary General of the Bookstore Ivan Korgorsky help me with selling back my books. Our conversation went like this:
Ivan: “Good day, Comrade! What can I help you with today?”
Me: “Hi. I’d like to sell back my books.”
Ivan: “Da. Let’s see what you have. (Looking at my first book.)
Da. I will give you $12.75 for this book. Or 300 rubles, your choice.”
Me: “I paid $75 for this book, and now you’re only gonna buy it back from me for $12.75?!?”
Ivan: “Sorry, Comrade, but under our policy of Peristroika, your book is now worth only that much.”
Me: “I only opened it five times this whole year!”
Ivan: “Ah, so you do admit to looking at it. Looking at book does depreciate its value instantly.”
Me: “Well, what about this book?”
Ivan: “This book is old edition. No good. Can’t buy back from you. Its Glasnost is used up with your borscht and babushkas.”
Me: “And this one?!?”
Ivan: “This book I can buy. So it will … oops.”
Me: “What is it?” Ivan: “There is small tear on page 17. That lowers price by $24.”
Me: “What the …? I’m out of here.”
Ivan: “Das vadania! Come back soon, Comrade!”
I am aware that book sales bring in a large percentage of money for the school and the Lory Student Center. I do know that books can only be sold back for a certain amount of money and editions become outdated and replaced by professors and departments year after year. And yes, I do know that there are other places locally at which one can buy and sell books.
But it still sucks.
So, Comrades, I leave you with this, the Anthem of the USSB (United Soviet Socialist Bookstore):
“Long live the Motherland! We praise and cheer and sing.
We love to sell our books real high, it’s quite a funny thing!
For when students say, You charge too much,’ and, Can’t you give us more?’
We laugh and give them pennies, then go shut the door.”

Christian Pruett’s column originally appeared in Monday’s Colorado State University Rocky Mountain Collegian.