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Issues | Gripe

End the College Bookstore Monopoly

They profit at both ends, buying back high-priced texts for a pittance.

June 07, 1997|CARRIE ZHANG | Carrie Zhang attends UC Irvine

I am a college student sick of paying exorbitant prices for textbooks because of the campus bookstore's monopoly. Course books are absolutely necessary and there is no place to purchase them other than the campus bookstore.

Generally a student takes four classes per quarter, with each class requiring at least one book. Books cost an average of $70 each, making the total cost about $280 or more per quarter. Even if a student has a job, spending close to $300 for books three times a year is ridiculous.

Though some school bookstores have a buyback program by which students can sell their books back at the end of the quarter, the buyback prices are not very high. Most books can only be sold back for about $20. That means a substantial loss to the student after just 10 weeks of use. The bookstore then sells the used books for a slightly lower price than new ones, again making a profit.

Unfortunately, textbooks are not available outside of the school bookstore. Students are not given the choice to shop for books in a competitive market because one does not exist. We are forced to pay whatever the bookstore charges because there is simply nowhere else to go.

It's the school's responsibility to help students learn, not to gouge them. Significant changes should be made in the pricing system of textbooks. There should be a cap on the amount of money a campus bookstore can charge for a textbook. Fortunately for me, I am graduating soon and paying close to $300 per quarter for books will no longer be a worry. But I feel sorry for the students who are just starting. They are looking at spending thousands of dollars in the next four years on books they will probably never use again and can only resell for a fraction of what they paid for them.

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