Rant of the Day

Rant of the Day: College Textbooks

Being a college student can be tough. Living on a low income while accumulating mountains of debt is a rough deal to start. But the proverbial kick in the balls comes in the form of the college textbook. These books come in all shapes and sizes but they all share one characteristic: Textbooks are wildly overpriced.

When you walk into a campus bookstore, it looks just like any other place. The atmosphere is warm and staff inviting. It’s an unsuspecting place to be completely and totally defrauded but every semester students go into these places and come out the other side battered and abused by astronomical prices.

These centers of monopolistic commerce need to be stopped. Students need books and that need is routinely exploited. It’s systemic and no one is doing anything about it. Let me give an example.

This semester I bought one singular book. The retail price to purchase this USED book was $57.99. I bought the book and used it sparingly throughout the semester. At the end of the semester, bookstores give students the option to sell textbooks back to them. I went ahead and took advantage of this opportunity hoping to regain some of my money.

How much money do you think I got back for returning a $58 USED book in the same USED condition that I bought it? Conservatively, I would expect somewhere between $20 to $30. That still gives them plenty of room to turn it over for a profit again.

This cashier graciously offered ONE DOLLAR. Seriously? What an overt screwjob! There is no way in hell that my book depreciated to FIFTY TIMES less in value in the span of a few months. I wouldn’t even be pissed if I believed they would sell it at a lesser price on the next go around. But we all know what it will say on that exact book when I walk in next semester. That price is going to be set at $57.99.

Online book markets like Amazon have helped combat this crisis but not nearly as much as needed. College kids are inherently lazy and taking a book to the local store as opposed to going through the process of shipping is much more attractive. I shouldn’t have to go through a drawn out process to get a fair deal.

The problem is how cyclical it is. Pun intended, books have a long shelf life. These people can turn the same book over three or four times, charging the same price without having to incur costs more than a dollar. That’s outrageous! How are we not protesting in the streets about this? Corporate greed is rampant in our local bookstores and I for one am sick of it.



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