Throwing the book at text buying policies

Jason Okamoto

There are two things that CSUS students bitch about most, parking and textbooks. The only legitimate bitch is book prices. As for parking, most students complain for the sake of complaining. Even The State Hornet has overblown the parking issue in the past, when the truth is that students can easily walk from any campus parking lot to their respective classroom in ten minutes or less.

And if it’s the daily parking price of $2.75 that seems high, it’s pocket change next to UCLA’s $6-per-day fee.

But lets face it, these single digits are trifles compared with buying books from the campus bookstore. And for all of you who don’t know the proper name of the bookstore, it’s “The Bookstore.”

Famous for overcharging for books and then stiffing us at buyback time, The Bookstore is currently the only retail option for students. This hits some pocketbooks hard.

On the average, any given student will spend per semester $200 on books. Some spend up to $500.

Sometimes a single textbook goes for about $100. Of course, this varies with every student.

You end up forking over a Franklin for a book, and later they throw you back three measly Hamiltons for it. That’s if you’re lucky.

Sometimes The Bookstore nonchalantly orders new editions for the next semester without letting students know ahead of time. For a hundred dollars, you have just purchased an oversized paperweight.

The books are born when you buy them, die about three months later when you sell them, and then are born again when another student buys them for about the same price you did (when it was new).

Now lets keep in mind that the bookstore is part of the CSUS Foundation, which is credited for giving grants, providing student employment, and other services. That sounds noble and everything, but can the same not be done without ripping us off?Sure you can go onlineto sites such as like or, but there are no shops around the corner to compete with the virtual stranglehold the university has on book sales.

Some students find it more convenient to borrow books from friends or classmates. But then again, you can only bum books so many times before you start feeling like one.

ASI’s VP of Finance, Peter Ucovich, thinks The Bookstore should not be the only on-campus book source.

He has even proposed a book exchange program that would work for the students.

The program is based on the idea that students would probably sell their books to other students if there were a place available to do so.

This service could be offered on-line and on campus, kind of like a swap meet.

“We are in a free market place, but right now The Bookstore has it monopolized,” Ucovich said. “With a new program we can eliminate the middle man…students can buy and sell books at reasonable prices.”

Ucovich also points out that other schools,Cal State Fullerton, Santa Barbara and UC Davis in particular, have set up similar programs.

No matter which way you look at it, it seems to be more of a good idea than a bad one. Students selling to students. Why hasn’t anyone thought of that before?

The idea seems to be very appealing, but still some hypercritical questions come quick to mind. Like, how would students know if a textbook would be used the following semester? How would students set prices? One student’s definition of “good condition” might differ from another.

Despite those questions, Ucovich’s plan has merit. And if it succeeds, students will have one less thing to bitch about.

Click here to send private feedback about this article to the State Hornet’s Forum staff.