No one wants to pay for expensive books, and students will happily avoid the bookstore if Amazon, craigslist, or word of mouth can offer a cheaper alternative. One untapped resource may be the recycle bin that the bookstore offers for those books that it can’t accept during the buyback session.
Here are a few titles that were available on August 1st:
-Human Anatomy Lab Manual
-Introduction to Statistics
-Introduction to Geology
-“Fiction” 6th edition by R.S. Gwynn.
-“Living with Art,” 8th edition by Mark Getlein
All these books have no market value, so the bookstore chose to give students the option to recycle books in a collection bin. The collection bin provided by One Planet Books, a book recycling program sponsored by MBS—the bookstores main shipment supplier—is there year-round
But some of these books students can still use. The Human Anatomy Lab Manual, for example, has not changed in three years, and the same edition will be sold new at the bookstore this fall. Last spring it was 97 dollars for a new edition.
The statistics book in the bin was an eight edition. This fall, Stats 252 has moved on to the ninth edition, but like many new editions in the general education field, not much has changed. Even the Statistics Department agreed that hardly anything has changed in the latest edition. The bookstore stopped taking the 8th at the beginning of spring 2011.
Lead Textbook Buyer Galina Ryabova-Houston said that no students have asked to look in the collection bin so far. They have partnered with One Planet the last three buyback sessions.
Before the partnership, Ryabova-Houston said that the bookstore would collect everything in a tub and display it along the entrance.
“People would pick through them creating quite a mess in the outer hallway. The covers of the books would become ripped and bent after several pick throughs and be left lying all over the front entrance,” Ryabova-Houston.
The collection bin is currently closed, and opened through a lever at the back. When asked if students could look through the bin and take whatever books they wanted, Alessandra Vanover, the director of the bookstore, suggested that would be inappropriate.
“If someone dropped it in the recycle bin, we want their intention honored,” Vanover said.
Some students want the option to look through the books before they are recycled.
Patricia Westbrook and Sarah Mayes are nursing majors in their senior year. They remember using the same anatomy lab manual when they took Anatomy 111, two years ago.
“We had to buy it from the bookstore because it was a custom edition, it wasn’t easy to find online. Sure, if I had seen it in a box I would’ve taken it and saved a lot of money,” Mayes said.
Westbrook keeps all her books for future reference, while Mayes sells her books whenever possible. She only keeps books for her major, mostly because they went out of edition. This was the first time she heard about the recycling program, and said she would now have to visit the bookstore to recycle her books.
“I’ve never even thought of recycling them before. I will now definitely,” Mayes said.
Geology major Tessa Cellors was also intrigued about the program; without it, most of her books would stay at home.
When asked if students should be able to look through the future recyclables, both students firmly said yes.
“If they’re going to recycle it anyway, who cares if the book is messed up because people rummaged through the bin?” Westbrook said.
According to the One Planet Books website, all participants are paid for shipping the books to them. The amount varies with several factors. So far, the bookstore has breaks even through the program, Ryabova-Houston said.
“Since the program is just starting we are pretty much breaking even on our labor costs handling and processing recycled books. Please keep in mind that not all books dropped in the bin head to One Planet books.”
The bookstore can look for other markets where the books may have value, but they say they mostly just donate it.
“In the past we have donated some books to the LRC, the Bases and as donations to the community. Occasionally we have set some out, on a bookcase, in the front of the store for people to take as they like,” Ryabova-Houston said.
This article was updated from the print edition on August 28, 2011.