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
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
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.
raise prices when fewer new copies are
Buzzanco recalled his college days when
"books were available, prices weren't as bad," as opposed to the mega-stores
The UH Bookstore is owned by Barnes and
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.