Student decides it’s time for the bookstore to pay

Coralie Carlson

A disgruntled University student held three bookstore employees hostage on the roof of the Social Sciences Building on Friday afternoon after a scuffle over textbook buy-back prices.
Penny Les, a psychology senior, entered the Williamson Hall bookstore at 9:30 a.m. to sell back her textbooks. After waiting in line for three hours, she reached the front of the line and presented seven books to sell. Originally, the books cost $270.
Ebenezer Scrooge, a bookstore clerk, looked at the books and offered Les $3.75.
Others in line said Les turned red in the face and started screaming, “I paid for these books in September; now it’s your turn to pay!”
Les grabbed Scrooge and two other bookstore employees by their blue lab-coats and herded them across the Washington Avenue Bridge with a cattle prod.
Then Les and the hostages waited 25 minutes in the Social Sciences Building for an elevator which took them to the top of the 14-story building.
The student gave authorities a list of demands regarding book buy-back policies. She said two requirements were non-negotiable: “The University should buy used textbooks for at least 75 percent of the original price” and “bookstore employees purchase any textbook from students that University bookstores sold at the beginning of the quarter.”
She also demanded a written apology to all University students from the bookstores, the University Board of Regents and University President Mark Yudof.
Dressed in black, Les bound and gagged the bookstore employees. She then tied them to a post and strew her used textbooks at their feet like kindling.
She taunted the victims with a Zippo lighter, threatening to start an “old-fashioned book burning.”
University Police held back the growing crowd of supporters in front of the building.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said University Police Sergeant Phive O. Piggie. “Usually the masses gather in support of the victims, but these students keep trying to throw more books on the fire.”
Kofi Bein, a cultural studies and comparative literature junior, broke through the police barricades and made his way up to the roof — with another hostage in tow.
“This one works at a coffee shop,” Kofi told Les. “If she didn’t overprice my morning cup of joe, maybe I could afford my textbooks. What she charges for an espresso is a crime.”
The hostages and terrorists stayed on the roof until the sun went down at 3:30 p.m. Then the brisk 75-degree temperatures forced Les and Bein inside where they were arrested by the police.
None of the hostages were injured.