One of the difficult, often aggravating, and always expensive, aspects of getting a college education has to find and buy textbooks. In theory, all you have to do is get your booklist when you register, then head for the Campus Bookstore, credit card in hand and a suitcase on wheels to haul the books away in. Apart from the sticker shock – it is not unheard of for “free” classes available to senior citizens to end up costing over $400 in textbooks – the bookstores on large campuses can be packed with thousands of students all trying to get books at the same time. Long lines and long waits are common. There are even times when the Campus Bookstore runs out of some of the texts.
From the students’ point of view, it seems as if there is a conspiracy between the textbook publishers, professors and Campus Bookstores to keep the price as high as possible by requiring a new edition each year, and eliminating competition by not releasing reading lists to independent booksellers. Sometimes the reading list is only available as classes start, making it impossible to order a used copy online and get it before maybe the second week of class. It is possible to find used copies online, but they are seldom cheap, and the used copies available from the campus bookstores are definitely not a bargain. They are marked up significantly from the pitiful amount paid to a student selling last semester’s textbooks.
The odds of getting an economical copy of a textbook in time for the first class are pretty much stacked against the student, with prices going up all the time. Even for the students who bite the bullet and pay full price in the campus store, there is the spectre of theft. If someone didn’t fork out more than $100 for the book, and doesn’t have any scruples about lifting one, they can easily get $50 from a grateful student who may not ask questions about where the book came from and why it is being sold.
But what do you do if you have exhausted all avenues, legal and otherwise, to find a cheap textbook? In desperation you go to the Campus Bookstore only to find that they don’t have any more, or never had it in the first place. What do you do now? You suggest to the store manager that him or her contact firstname.lastname@example.org immediately.
The Canadian newspaper, in association with AgoraPublishing.com, offers a textbook distribution service to campus bookstores. The service is available across Canada, in the United States, and internationally. Your bookstore can also approach the AgoraPublishing.com whose free book search services locate difficult-to-find Canadian and international non-textbook titles.