Students seek alternatives to bookstore buyback program

TRU students are getting creative to avoid the pocketbook pinch when it comes to buying or selling textbooks this semester. Facebook, bulletin board ads and the TRUSU book exchange have all been used as alternatives to the buyback program at the TRU Bookstore.

Sunny Duiay said he has not bought a textbook in the last two years. The fourth-year psychology student said borrowing textbooks from friends that have already taken his courses is cheaper.

“The old editions seemed to be pretty much the same as the new ones and it just didn’t really make sense to me to go to the bookstore to buy a $200 book when I could just get one from a friend for a semester,” he said.

Duiay said he does look at the TRU Facebook groups for used textbooks and has used those groups to sell textbooks in the past.

“There was definitely a significant difference,” he said of the resale value he got selling his textbooks independently.

“I feel like that’s the reason that most people sell their books on Facebook page as opposed to selling it at the bookstore.”

While TRU buys back books for other schools, director of ancillary services Glen Read said students get the highest value if their book is in demand at TRU.

Students can reclaim 50 per cent of a book’s value if a TRU professor has requested the book. Otherwise, a book is worth 10 to 50 per cent of the original cost.

Likewise, the number of students using the buyback program depends on how many professors are using the same book semester to semester.

“If a professor chooses to use the same title for, say, four consecutive semesters, we’ll have a lot more students selling their books back, because that’s where they get the most value,” Read said.

Used books in the bookstore are sold for 65 to 75 per cent of the cost of a new book. Read said that price mostly covers the cost of labour above the 50 per cent paid to the seller.

He also said that professors change booklists anywhere from every year to every three years.

“Some courses may require the change more frequently than others because the actual content may be out of date, but I think that we could probably use the same textbooks for a longer period of time,” Read said.

“Typically publishers are the ones that are pushing the agenda to change that with faculty and the content doesn’t really change that much, so I would like to see more used textbooks in the marketplace. It just benefits the students in the long run.”

TRUSU book exchange

At over five-years old, the book exchange is one of TRUSU’s oldest online services. According to TRUSU president Dylan Robinson, the exchange is meant to “cut out the middleman” when it comes to the sale and resale of textbooks.

“As many students will probably have experienced, sometimes the resale value that you can get going to the Bookstore or just trying to just post your book randomly on Facebook is not really that great,” he said.

By facilitating direct sales, Robinson said TRUSU hoped to help sellers get the most for their books, while letting buyers avoid the 15 to 25 per cent mark-up added to used books at the Bookstore.

“Sometimes it can seem just a little bit easier to just go on your Facebook and, ‘Oh, I’ll just post my books right here too my friends,’ but letting students know that this is an option for them is one of our focuses as the services committee,” Robinson said.

About 300 people used the book exchange from September to November 2014.