Wensday, January 16, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 73



Bookstore called unfair by students, history professor

By Ray Hafner
Daily Cougar Staff

Inside the UH Bookstore, lines of students waiting to buy this semester's books snaked around shelves and business was clearly booming. But
outside at the University Center, a small cadre of mostly history students led by associate history professor Bob Buzzanco passed out flyers and
called for a boycott of the campus bookstore.

Lorrie Novosad/The Daily Cougar

History graduate student Scott Arkin passes out flyers outside the UH Bookstore on Tuesday. Arkin and a group of people were protesting the
bookstore's prices and buyback policy.

The flyers claim the store's books are too expensive, its buyback rates are too low and its policies hurt students.

"Lots of students (are) grumbling. We're trying to give a voice to that anger," said Renee Feltz, a post-baccalaureate student. Feltz estimates she
spent between $3,000 and $4,000 on books as an undergraduate history major.

Several students stopped to talk to the protestors and also voiced their concerns.

"It's too expensive," said Garrett Arnold, a sophomore photography student. After reading the flyer, Arnold said he planned to boycott the store
and would do his shopping at Rother's.

Rother's Bookstore was touted by the protestors as a cheaper alternative to the UH Bookstore.

The small number of protestors drew little attention as most students walked by. Monti Eddins, the store's regional manager, did take notice and
called the flyer "misinformation."

Eddins acknowledged that buybacks were more profitable but said used copies always sell better than new ones because it benefits students to
get the cheapest copies available. For a book that is going to be used in the next semester, the bookstore will give students 50 percent of the
original cover price. Used books are then sold for 75 percent of the cover price.

When the book is not going to be used the next semester, the bookstore offers the wholesale price to students. That price is determined by age,
demand and how often editions change. One problem the bookstore often has is professors not notifying them of their reading lists before the
store starts buybacks.

As for returning books in the middle of the semester, Eddins said that from fall to spring, "we only returned those books we knew were not going
to be used again." The spring semester is different, as publishers have deadlines for returning inventory.

Eddins also questioned Buzzanco's motives for organizing students into protest. Buzzanco's own book, Question Authority (which he
co-authored), is shrink-wrapped and available only as a new book.

When a book is bought back and then resold, the author receives no royalties, so a used copy of an author's book would not benefit the author
financially. The flyer attacked the used-book market for several reasons, including being a cause of textbook price inflation. Publishers must
raise prices when fewer new copies are sold.

Buzzanco recalled his college days when "books were available, prices weren't as bad," as opposed to the mega-stores of today.

The UH Bookstore is owned by Barnes and Noble.

Buzzanco says he hopes Tuesday's demonstration will raise awareness of the issue, and he plans more action.

"We're not going to take them down the first week," he said. 

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