Alex Romano

The end of the semester is almost here, and the dreaded task of what to do with this semester’s textbooks is quickly approaching.

It’s not an easy task. Do you give in by selling your textbooks back to the bookstore on campus for a miniscule amount of money, or do you put in more effort to make a few extra bucks by reselling them online?

Many students I’ve encountered are just too lazy to re-sell their textbooks online and having to ship them out to a buyer. I don’t blame them.

But then again, selling them back to the bookstore is extremely convenient and results in practically getting robbed.

However, there are some tricks to this. One friend told me he buys his books from a textbook reseller — like — for $4. Meanwhile, let’s say the George Mason University bookstore sells the same book for $70. At the end of the semester, he sells the book back to the bookstore and actually makes a profit. So there are tricks around the bookstore’s low return rate.

The cost of books online is unarguably less. For example, I found a book online for $20, which the campus bookstore was selling for $120.

Although, I wouldn’t say it’s always the bookstore’s fault. A lot has to do with the textbook business in general.

For example, if there’s a new edition of a book coming out, the bookstore won’t take back the older version because it isn’t used, which you can’t necessarily blame them for. This “new edition” may have a bit more color and some page changes, justifying its “newness.”

In addition, some have to purchase online codes to be able to do homework on top of the cost of the textbook. A friend of mine once described the textbook business as extortion and it really does seem like it.

Most professors are sympathetic towards students and will factor in the cost of books as well as limit the amount of books required — although some aren’t as thoughtful.

It just so happens that all the professors I’ve had that weren’t as sympathetic were the ones who wrote or co-wrote the textbook.

From what I’ve heard, the IT 103 classes seemed the most corrupt. Just a year ago, you had to buy a new book to receive an active code. Otherwise, a previous student would’ve already activated it. You needed this active code to do the required homework and you couldn’t purchase a code separately.

As a general education course, many students are required to take the class, and a lot of students were buying new books every semester.

At least with my Spanish 110 class, I had the option of buying the $50 code separately. Still, I had to buy the book new for it to come with a code that would work so I could do the required homework.
Now if that’s not extortion, then what is?

Alex Romano is currently the Program Director of WGMU Radio and co-host of “Mixing it Up and Back,” Sunday nights 9-10 p.m., where you can hear a preview of the Weekly Rant live on-air. Alex is also a former member of SG’s Senate.