In the 2011-12 year, full time students spent an average of $420 on new and used textbooks from their college stores according to the National Association of College Stores. That same year, student’s spent an average of $68 per textbook from campus outlets, though this figure includes general book sales.
As Boise State pupils gear up for a return to fall semester, students will be forced to shell out scarce greenbacks to have the necessary materials for their courses, but why do these textbooks cost so much?
“I don’t want to make this sound like it is going to, but I am going to blame the publishers,” said Boise State Textbook Manager Greg Kannenberg. “I deal with them regularly and they have always been a huge, huge business.”
An estimated $.77 of every dollar spent on textbooks goes to the publisher for printing, marketing, administration and payment for writers.
“We do mark the books up but, of course, what we make on the books goes back to the university. It pays for our overhead, and then the rest goes to the university. We’re not out lining the pockets of stockholders or anything like that,” Kannenberg said.
According to Kannenberg, publishers are pushing to bundle textbooks with one time use software, making it impossible to resell the books and software when finished with a course and forcing students to buy new material each term.
“Now we have this bundle that you can’t buy used, it has to be bought new,” Kannenberg said.
Boise State’s bookstore does purchase previously used books at the end of each semester, but buyback is driven by professor requests and demand for courses not only at Boise State, but at universities across the country.
Kannenberg sends out emails to Boise State instructors before the end of each semester asking for course material requests. If the professor is late fulfilling these requests, students may miss out on selling textbooks back.
“For example, for this fall, I had requested they submit their adoptions by April 15th so that by the time buyback comes around at the end of May, I would hopefully have all the information I need from the instructors as to what books are going to be used again next year,” Kannenberg said.
Textbooks that will be used by Boise State professors for the following term are purchased at 50 percent of their original cost.
“That is going to be the best price you get selling your book back to the bookstore,” Kannenberg said.
If Boise State doesn’t need the textbook, Kannenberg sells them to textbook wholesalers like Nebraska Book Company, who distributes them to colleges needing materials for courses.
“That’s what leaves a bad taste in a lot of student’s mouths,” Kannenberg said. “You are getting maybe a quarter to an eighth of the price that you paid for the book.”
These low sell back prices are driven strictly by the wholesalers themselves and Kannenberg doesn’t make a profit from these exchanges.
“What I pay students for that book is what they pay me,” Kannenberg said.
Though these buyback prices are not even close to the original shelf cost, Kannenberg explained dealing with these national wholesalers allows for cost saving opportunity down the road.
“If we do a lot of buyback for the wholesalers, then they open up their used book inventory more to us,” Kannenberg said. “They will give us an opportunity to find used books, which we always try to buy first before purchasing new texts.”
Boise State prices
Sociology 101: $92.75
Comm 112: $103.75
Math 143: $96.75
Hist 101: $98.25
Music 102: $99.75
Amazon Book prices:
Sociology 101: $60.99
Comm 112: $100.42
Math 143: $92.87
Hist 101: $62.17
Music 102: $50.00
Total: $366. 45
Savings from Amazon: 124.80
Trade in on Amazon:
Sociology 101: $40.41
Comm 112: $91.25
Math 143: $9.71
Hist 101: $43.80
Music 102: 48.77
Amazon giftcard credit: $233.94