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USG aims to give students more bang for their books

Thomas Bradley / Campus editor

After exams have been taken, papers written and presentations given, many students plan to sell their used textbooks, adding a little extra cash to their wallets.

Kicking off their Buckeye Textbook Swap initiative, Undergraduate Student Government representatives hope to give students more than what campus bookstores have been willing to pay them for their used textbooks.

“It’s basically a textbook exchange, you sell it for more than the bookstore price,” said Nick Messenger, USG president. “You cut out the bookstore and the upcharge.”

Messenger said he expects the program to save students $80 each quarter on average, earning roughly $25 more per book sold.

Similar programs have been implemented at the University of Wisconsin and Michigan State University.

During finals week, drop-off stations will be located at the Ohio Union and outside the William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library on the Oval side of the building. Students will be able to drop off their used textbooks and get a price recommendation from USG members working the stations. Students are asked to set their own price for the book, which will then be collected to be resold during the first week of Spring Quarter.

If a book is sold, the seller will receive that payment on their BuckID, and if it doesn’t sell, their book will be returned to them.

Students will be able to search online to find out if USG has collected the books they want to purchase for spring classes.

“There’s an online component so you can look up the book you need. You can take a look at the website and see what is available and what you want to buy,” Messenger said.

USG partnered with textyard.com to log and sell all the books they plan to sell, said Sean Fitzpatrick, a academic affairs director of USG. Fitzpatrick said textyard.com is letting USG use this service for free.

While USG will not set a price for students to sell their books, they give recommendations based on information they can find about the book in order for students to agree to a competitive price.

“One of the benchmarks we use is 75 percent of the new Amazon value,” Messenger said.

Students can identify a competitive market value by comparing the prices various campus locations offer them. To provide context, The Lantern compared the buyback profit of a single textbook with several campus stores and the Buckeye Textbook Swap recommendation.

“Born to Talk: An Introduction to Speech and Language Development (5th Edition),” is a required textbook for Speech and Hearing Science 330. Student Book Exchange offered $35 to buy back the textbook and is selling them for $100 used and $133 new. The campus Barnes and Noble offered to buy the book back for $34, and according to their online Ohio State textbook shop, sold them for $100 used and $133.35 new for the Winter Quarter section of the course.

Amazon.com is selling the book new for $103 and between $57 and $80 used.

Messenger said the Textbook Swap recommendation would be that the student lists the book between $65 and $80, which if sold, would give them up to $45 more than they would have received from a campus bookstore.

Some students like the idea of getting more back for their books.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Britni Fortney, a fourth-year in radiologic sciences and therapy. “I would definitely use it.”

Despite her approval, Fortney said she had some reservations at first about the initiative.

“Professors change books all the time, which could be a huge problem. Some people also wait until later in the quarter to buy books, a lot of people wait to go to class a few times to find out if they’re even going to need it,” Fortney said.

The program doesn’t cater to students who choose to do this, since unsold books are redistributed to their owners after the first week of Spring Quarter.

UBX Book Exchange general manager Andrew Gordon, who on March 8 hadn’t heard of the program, cited similar flaws in the program.

“My first thought is that books change a lot, so it sounds like USG is going to lose money on this,” Gordon said.

Messenger confirmed that USG will make no profit on the Textbook Swap, and that all money collected will go directly to the selling student.

Gordon said he thinks the program has the potential to hurt his business.

“It’ll probably take some business away from me, but I don’t know how popular it will be,” Gordon said.

Messenger said he doesn’t know how popular it will be either.

“I don’t know if I’d set a number to it. Nothing like this has ever been done before at Ohio State. I think it will travel by word of mouth, and every time we do it, people will see it and use it more,” Messenger said.

Messenger said the textbooks collected will be stored at the university in “a few secure store units at the Union” over Spring Break.


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