Seniors fight textbook prices

A semester’s worth of books may cost nothing for students in the future.

Seniors Alex Perkins and Benjamin Kaufman are creating an online system where students donate and borrow books, all free of charge. “We spent all this money on a book that we were really only using for one semester,” Perkins said. “It’s a lot of money just standing by. So we were thinking about how we can continue the use of these books.”

A textbook for one biology course costs about $100- 150, senior Simonne Valcour said.

Kaufman said they have started collecting books and now have around 500. “There’s a cycle where the bookstore sells you the book, you use it and then you sell it back to them for like a third of the price,” Kaufman said.

Sophomore Katie Babione had similar thoughts. “[Textbooks] are really expensive and I don’t get much money back,” Babione said.

UVM Bookstore director Jay Menninger said textbooks not used the next semester are sold to a Nebraska wholesale company. The bookstore uses the company’s price guide to determine the buyback price. “[The] Nebraska Book Company wholesale price guide, and prices there, are determined by national demand, age of publication, existing inventory at their warehouse and condition,” Menninger said. Otherwise, Menninger said they will buy the book back for up to 50 percent of the books original price.

“I kept most of my books just because I thought I might have a better use than the $3 they’d give me,” Kaufman said. Kaufman and Perkins said they plan to have warehouse space to store and package books that are requested online. 

“It’s going to be a work in progress for a while,” Perkins said. “Eventually we’d like people to create an account through their student email address and then be able to physically rent the book,” he said.

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College textbook facts:

  1. On average, college students spend $1,200 a year on textbooks.
  2.  In a survey of over 2,000 students on 163 different college campuses, 65 percent said they choose to not buy a textbook because it’s too expensive. 
  3. Forty-eight percent of those students said they took classes based on textbook costs.
  4. College textbook prices have risen by 82 percent in the last 10 years.

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