An arm and a leg for a book?

I started writing this column with one thing in mind: showing people how the bookstore is taking our money and inflating prices of our books to make even more money off of us. But after an interview with Steve Overholt, the course materials manager of the bookstore, I found out the bookstore is really doing the best it can, and the staff really does have an eye out for the student. According to Overholt, many students think the bookstore inflates its prices so they can make more money. This, he says, is not true. The bookstore employs many different techniques to find the required books for the least cost, even the recommended and optional books. I was curious to know – how can a book that has more pages and full color images cost less than a book that is half that size with limited illustrations in it? What it primarily comes down to is the cost from the publisher. Overholt said the cost of a book not only depends on the size of the book, but also how many books are in circulation. In my interview, I compared my instrument ground school book with my PSYC 101 book. The instrument ground book is published by Jeppesen, and their books are the most popular books for flight training across the country. Since those books are used across the country, Jeppesen can publish more of them for less cost. But my PSYC 101 book is brand new, and there are many other books that are available for psychology. Since there are a limited number of books that are needed due to the large number of other psychology books on the market, they publish less than Jeppesen does because there is not as much demand for them. With a book that is published in small numbers, the cost is often much higher than other books. I was given some interesting figures from Overholt. When a student buys books, only 23.4 cents from every dollar goes back to the bookstore. The publisher gets 64.3 cents out of that dollar. From there it is split between the freight for shipping of the book and the author’s cut. The money that ends up back at the bookstore mostly goes to cover expenses, like salaries and operation costs. The income that is left after employees and bills are paid goes to student book scholarships, student book loans and all of the support the bookstore gives students on campus. The bookstore often donates things to student organizations, sports teams and other causes. Now that you know a little bit more about the bookstore and how it determines how much it charges for books, let’s get into buyback. Students are almost always complaining about how much, or how little as the case sometimes is, they get back for selling their books to the bookstore. The truth is, the bookstore buys back books for half the cost of a new book. Even books that were bought used are bought back by the bookstore at half of the new price. “We would much rather buy used books back from the students than buy new books from the publisher, or used books from wholesalers,” said Overholt. When they buy from the students, the bookstore does not have to pay shipping and handling for the new or used books that they buy from other sources. When the bookstore is buying books, they always look for used books before they buy new books. The bookstore is not out for its own profit; it is out to provide students with the books they need at the lowest cost. But, Overholt did say students often buy books online because they are cheaper. One thing students need to make sure of is that the books are the same books as the ones they need for their class, he said. Overholt said the bookstore provides as much information as possible to the students on the book list so they can peruse that with as much knowledge as they can get. I found my ground school book online for $73.19 from, but that cost does not include shipping and handling. Students need to take that, and taxes, into mind when they are buying books online. According to Overholt, the perfect situation would be having one book on the shelves for every class. That means no student is without a book and they did not buy too many and spend more money than was necessary. Hopefully, this will change your perspective on the bookstore, everything it does and the reasons it does it.

As a final note, this is my last column for the BG News. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I must resign my position as a columnist. I hope all of you have enjoyed my columns as much as I have enjoyed writing them.

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