The Book Buy Back Process is A Rip Off

Many of us have spent our last day of the semester at the one place we wish we didn’t have to be. The dreaded book buy-back line in the University Store at the end of every semester that you’ll spend 20 minutes in. You’ll be thinking about the food you’re going to buy with the money you get back from those textbooks that you bought.

A harsh reality

It’s your turn now and you’re standing at the counter waiting for the student employee to tell you how much cash you’re going to be rolling in.

“We can give you $12,” he says. Next thing you know you’re having a “30 Rock”-type flashback to the beginning of the semester when you bought the book. You recall a different student employee saying, “That’ll be $135 to buy this book.”

The choice we’re faced with is to either take the little bit of money offered or to go on throughout the day living with the weight of a useless textbook and the knowledge that it is now only worth $12. I always take the money, but at the same time I leave with a very cold, empty feeling.

For students, it feels like the bookstore is ripping us off when we sell our books for a pittance compared to when we bought them, just for the bookstore to turn it around and sell it again for $3 less than the original price as a “used” book.

Student Experience

Marissa Faircloth, a junior accounting major, knows this feeling all too well. Two semesters ago, she bought a brand new chemistry book for $140. When she went to sell it back they offered her $2 because “a new edition came out that semester.”

Now this doesn’t happen all the time. New editions don’t necessarily come out every semester and sometimes students do get more than $2 back.

Checking before wasting time

Students can check to see how much revenue they might make by checking the University Store’s website. That way if the university doesn’t actually want or need your textbooks, you can save that 20 minutes of line standing for something else. I don’t know, maybe crying at the fact that your book is worth less than a Happy Meal.

University Store response

Contrary to popular belief, Brooke Salter, textbook manager at the University Store, says that the bookstore isn’t trying to rip you off and in fact keeps students in mind when buying books back.

“Most of the stuff we’re buying back is up to 50 percent of the new cost, so that’s more money for our students,” Salter said.

Salter said the amount students get back depends on the demand and marketplace of textbooks that are now being updated more frequently and suggests other methods of getting the most out of your money for a one time use of a textbook.

“Sometimes we don’t need that book for the next semester, so we’ll give you a lower buyback price. Try selling it back the following semester,” Salter said. “Or you can try selling it to a friend or online.”

For some of us leaving Georgia Southern, selling back next semester isn’t really an option for us. So our choices are to either sell back our books so that we can buy a pack of gum or keep the books and have a very unprofessional (but seriously expensive) computer stand until we decide to grow up. I think I’ll take the pack of gum.