As another term winds down, students will try to regain some of the money they grudgingly spent on books by selling them back to University Bookstores.
Many will be unsatisfied with the results.
“I think the students are being ripped off, to a certain extent,” said Stephanie Moen, a theater arts senior.
But Bob Crabb, the director of University Bookstores, said the bookstores do not generally decide how much to charge or pay for used books.
“It’s pretty standard throughout the industry,” Crabb said.
The bookstores, which are privately owned and receive no University money, buy their new books from national wholesalers for 75 percent of retail value and resell them in the stores at 100 percent. When finals week comes, they begin buying back used books at 50 percent of retail value if they will be used the next term. They then resell the used books at 75 percent of retail.
But sometimes the buy-back rates are much lower than 50 percent, and many students take notice.
“They resell books — and they’re not hardcover — and they charge a lot of money,” Moen said. “And when you go to return your books, they give you a piece of candy and two dollars.”
Crabb explained that different guidelines govern the resale value of books that will not be used the next term. Wholesalers buy old editions directly from students at a low price. They then attempt to sell the old editions to smaller schools, who have less concern than large universities for using brand new editions. The amount they give students depends on the likelihood that the wholesaler will be able to sell the book to a school.
“Big research institutions must use first editions,” Crabb said. National book wholesalers have an idea of how many schools will buy old editions, and they pay for them according to how much risk is involved, said Crabb.
The semester transition, which has forced professors to revamp their curricula, has had little effect on the number and titles of new books the bookstores are selling, Crabb said.
“In some cases they’re changing books,” he said, “(but) we’re seeing a lot of the same books.”