June 20, 2024

The insane cost of books

This archived article was written by: Austin Palmer

Registering for college can be an exciting time, especially for someone who is just starting out on the college path. It isn’t filled with all of the normal chaos involved in high school. You don’t have to worry much about getting beat up or having your head shoved in a toilet bowl for wearing geaky looking cloths or for being yourself.
After all, you are going to school because you want to be there and have big plans for the future. All of the bullies who pushed and shoved their way through school aren’t around, they have steady jobs at McDonalds or are currently serving time in jail. Things are starting to look up and life couldn’t be better. You are moving from home with a couple of buddies and the oppressive home rules aren’t hanging overhead anymore. Going to bed at 4 a.m. is OK. Life is great!
After deciding what classes to take, a trip to the bookstore is next on the list to get a few supplies and materials that will be needed for class. Everything is fine until the time comes when the cashier rings things up. It’s almost like getting kicked in the groin or being hit over the head with a frying pan. How could something so little cost so much? The average price for the needed books was right around $75! Seventy five multiplied by five or six gets really expensive. The publishers act as though the person buying the book has already graduated from college and is well on their way to becoming a millionaire instead of working 40 hours a week and taking 18 credit hours.
Nevertheless, the books are necessary and so with a shrug and a shiver, the bill is paid. The bookstore that had been entered with a smile and anticipation was exited 15 minutes later with a depressed look and a sense of foreboding. Would all books cost this much? Class starts and the instructor goes through a seemingly endless syllabus but never once talks about the book that had just cost over a $100. The same experience is repeated about four times throughout the day and that sense of foreboding that was felt in the bookstore turns into confusion.
The book is faithfully brought to class for about three weeks until finally, it discovers that its true purpose in life is to be a doorstop. Throughout the remainder of the semester the book is opened once or twice and then quickly resumes its guard duties near the door. Then the confusion turns to anger as the realization hits with full force. The books that had cost nearly a weeks worth of hard work are actually unnecessary and unused. What a waste!
At the end of the semester after taking finals and dusting off books, another trip to the bookstore is at hand. It is finally time to cash in and get the money back that was spent on the worthless books. It was heartening to find out that the bookstore would actually be generous enough to buy the books back from you. They looked brand new and most of the pages still stuck together since they had never been opened. They were worth just as much money now as they had been when they were purchased.
As the precious books are laid upon the counter, the anger that was felt a couple weeks into the semester is quickly replaced with nearly uncontrollable rage and disbelief when the pathetic verdict is given. Of the five books, they would only take back two since the others had been replaced with newer editions and the two that were accepted had seemed to depreciate by 80 percent over the last three months. After paying nearly $500 for books about $75 is returned! What a joke.