Editorial: There are worse things than going to the bookstore… right?

If the powers that be at CNM really want to show that they care about students, they would do something substantial about the traumatic experience students face each term in pur­chasing textbooks.

Textbooks, which are touted as critical to the learning experience, cost roughly the same as a kidney transplant, but without comparable benefits or resale value.

Woe betide the student who needs a “CNM edition” of any book – the cost of an over­priced non-resalable copy of the Math0940 textbook is enough to make anyone cry.

It is rare to find a teacher who will honestly tell a student how much material from a book will be used. Too often, an instructor will report that the book will be used in every class period and is necessary for all homework assignments. Then students notice about midway through the semester that the 50 pound cobwebbed text they’ve been lugging around all term has yet to be used either in class or study sessions. Nothing hurts worse than the realiza­tion that what one actually pur­chased at the book store was a $200 case of crippling back pain.

Then there’s the scam of renting a textbook, which has enough fine print to keep a legion of lawyers busy for months. Miss the return dead­line by even a day and the late fee is the list cost of the book.

Entering the bookstore with a backpack or even a very large purse is absolutely prohib­ited during peak book buying times because the bookstore seems to be under the impres­sion that larceny is in the heart of every student. Of course, those items can be left outside the door with a lone work-study student who will protect them from damage, theft and the like. The bookstore, naturally, does not guarantee that the back­packs will be returned undam­aged, or evan at all.

Of course, the one word that defines book buying for any student is “lines.” Even with every register open, the book­store is not equipped to handle the volume of students in need of a textbook. Standing in a line for two hours in order to pur­chase books is standard in the fall and spring terms.

Then there’s the matter of buying textbooks with financial aid for a class that a student is not registered for. Doing so will garner an email from the dean of students, admonish­ing the guilty student against buying books for friends – and sometimes demanding that the offending material be returned immediately. In other words, a student may use financial aid to purchase any item in the bookstore – including an iPad, jewelry, clothing and even shot glasses – except textbooks because it could be for some­one else. How dare a student help another student get an education?

Selling a book back to the bookstore can be more trau­matic than the initial purchase. A book will only be purchased by the bookstore for, at most, half of its new price – regard­less of condition. The exact buyback price depends on the number of copies the book­store already has. If a book is about to be removed from the curriculum, the bookstore will not buy it back at all. They will also not inform students of that in advance. As a side note, the bookstore will also not mention that it is cheaper to buy single Scantron sheets rather than the six pack.

School or student orga­nization hosted book swaps, the ability to use financial aid on websites like Amazon or eBay and better communica­tion among all concerned par­ties would make life easier and reduce the risk of textbook purchase-induced PTSD.

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