By: Katrice Sutherland

I took a local government course in first semester and bought a required $70 text. It proved to be of no value to my learning experience.

True, the text was referenced in the syllabus, however the information it provided was redundant.

Other students, I’m sure, have found themselves in a similar situation.  But as with many things in life, you’ve got to make lemonade out of lemons. So when I return the book- hoping to get most of my money back- why do I still feel cheated?

Campus Connections has a two-week refund period set from either the date of purchase, or the first day of class corresponding with the text. After that they buy back used books for 50 per cent of the suggested retail price. This seems like a tremendous deal, however, they refuse to purchase texts that are used in single semester courses.

Since the course I was in only ran in the fall semester, I’m now stuck with a 500 page textbook on my shelf which I will never voluntarily use.

The average cost of a course textbook at Algonquin is $100. In some cases though, costs are exponentially more expensive. Students enrolled in the H-VAC program (studying heating/ A.C. systems) spend approximately $2,000 each semester on certification modules.

It’s all too often that students, especially first-years like me, are unaware of the options surrounding textbook purchases which would inevitably alleviate multiple financial pressures. Some texts are available to students through rental and used-books at Campus Connections, at the college library, thrift stores, or as online purchases. Students are even selling books to one another through social media outlets, like the Algonquin College Textbooks Facebook page.

We are left to our own devices to discover re-selling shortcuts.

Currently, Campus Connections is trying to smooth out a business deal with major publishers to establish the e-text initiative. This will offer students their required textbooks, which will remain accessible for three years, online at a marked down price with costs conveniently tagged onto tuition. This would be beneficial: students will save money, carry less to class and print versions will not be a waste of paper at the end of the program.

Unfortunately, until those kinds of terms are agreed upon, verified and implemented college-wide, we can anticipate little relief from the stresses of pricey texts.

Unlike the University of Ottawa and Carleton whose bookstores are run by U.S. publishing companies, Algonquin’s Campus Connections deposits 100 per cent of its revenue back into the college. But this hurts our students in some ways as well.

Since top publishers associated with the bookstore refuse to perform buy-backs for their own money-hungry reasons, students who return textbooks that are virtually untouched and still in their shrink wrap will not receive a full refund. There are no exceptions to the rule: if it’s been bought, it’s considered used.

Larry Cavanagh, manager of Campus Connections and First Class Press, confessed to me that in order to maintain used-book standards he sometimes is forced to tear shrink wrap off of new books, and write fake names on the inside of covers so that it looks disheveled, then sell it at second hand prices.

It’s a vicious circle. If students don’t purchase used material, it takes away from the budget for new books. To me, the solution seems obvious. If professors took extra time to stress which books would be frequently used, and contacted Connections to verify ‘suggested’ texts from ‘required’ ones for their courses, I would own the books that are absolutely necessary and have more money in my pocket.

The cost of textbooks fluctuates every year but they remain outrageously overpriced and never seem to be any less of a pain.