Coleman Molnar: Editor-In-Chief Ω
At the beginning of every semester the lineup at the TRU Bookstore grows long as students shop for texts and supplies for the classes ahead. Students must choose between new and used copies, older or newer editions and decide whether or not to buy all the listed materials and texts.
Courses may require certain books for completion or simply recommend them as a valuable reference. Books are listed below the course descriptions online at mytru.ca.
While some books are available for purchase online, at other bookstores or for loan at the library, it’s clear to Randy Matter, the Text Manager for the TRU Bookstore, that some students are simply not getting the required books.
“My definition of required—and I’ve let [the instructors] know this—is that the student will be tested from the book, but I hear students when they bring it back for buybacks for one instance who say, ‘I hardly ever looked at the book, he never referred to the chapters, I just went off his course notes and I didn’t really need the book,’” said Matter.
“That word gets around, so for that professor or that particular course the students might not purchase it,” he said.
While professors often list texts on their course outlines as required, Matter says that sometimes students are simply choosing to sacrifice a few letter grades to opt out of an expensive book.
“Very often the student can do better, obviously, if they buy the book and study out of the book but if they just want to pass the course, you know, just get their three credits, they might just wing it with course notes because maybe the book is $150-$200.”
Heidi Huttenen-Hennelly, a chemistry professor on campus, says she believes her required texts are valuable to her students.
“When it comes to chemistry especially, I think this is a subject you do a lot better in if you practice problems—just reading over course notes doesn’t give you good practice I think,” she said.
“In class we do a handful of questions and then we say, ‘here are the next 25 you can do out of the textbook.’”
According to Matter, certain subjects, such as business, math, economics and English as a Second Language (ESL), are the worst “culprits” when it comes to over-ordering books. The extra books must be returned to the publisher with the cost of the extra shipping and handling falling on the TRU Book Store.
“I would say in business the percentage is probably about 50 per cent or less in many cases in many courses and same with economics and math,” Matter said.
“So if they have one hundred students enrolled in a business course, sometimes we’ll only sell 35 to 40 books depending on the courses, but the numbers can be that low.”
Brenna Adkins, a fourth-year fine arts student, said she likes to keep her books after the class is finished as she has an ever-growing interest in her subject, but when it comes to choosing which books to buy to begin with, she has a very simple formula.
“I buy the books if I think the class is going to be hard,” she said.