Bookstore Prioritizes Profit Over Students

The bookstore should be a place where students can buy their textbooks at a reasonable price. Yet this is not the case at UVM. Let’s be honest, does anyone buy the majority of their textbooks at the bookstore? Instead of being a convenient resource for students, it has become a place that students, quite literally, avoid at all costs. The bookstore is panned by students and professors alike. One of our editors recalled a professor calling the prices at the bookstore “just shy of violating the Geneva Conventions.” Hyperbole? Perhaps. But when online booksellers like Amazon, Chegg, and Half.com are consistently cheaper than even the bookstore’s used prices, it is right to cry foul. Perhaps even worse than the actual textbook prices is the price at which the bookstore will buy back books.  The Cynic wasn’t aware that “Introduction to Fiction” depreciates faster than a brand new Mercedes driven off the lot. The bookstore’s business model seems to be “Why rip off students once when you can do it twice?” – that, or “label as much drinking paraphernalia as possible with the UVM logo.” Textbook buybacks typically coincide with a bookstore sale.  Lines of dejected students are enticed to spend their inadequate compensation on more bookstore products.  The Cynic wouldn’t be surprised if students give into the obvious sales trap simply to ditch the evidence of the fleecing they just underwent.  The bookstore doesn’t just sell books. Sure, make suckers out of parents, relatives, and alumni for buying officially licensed UVM merchandise – especially those “I’m 35 but not ready to grow up yet” alumni types who will shell out 90 bucks for a replica hockey jersey ­– but don’t expand the racket to include already cashed-strapped undergraduates. The primary purpose of the bookstore isn’t to serve as a retailer, akin to Borders or Barnes & Noble. It should merely be convenient place that provides students the opportunity to purchase their textbooks at the best bargain. Students don’t have to buy a snowman-shaped bottle of Vermont maple syrup, or a Billings Library reproduction chair, or a UVM Christmas stocking – but they have to buy books. When calculating how to make a profit, textbooks sales shouldn’t even be in the picture. The bookstore is a service that students deserve and have rightly paid for with their tuition; marking up textbooks to make a greater profit is an insult. A student discount would also be a welcome change.  Perhaps the campus would be filled with more green and gold if representing the home team didn’t require another student loan.  The UVM bookstore is failing its students.  We shouldn’t be the targets.  Students want to bring their business there, but high costs are forcing them away.