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Bookstore blues: The cost of your education

As if the holiday season and Boxing Day sales don’t wreak enough havoc on one’s wallet, students have the added cost of textbooks as the New Year brings a new academic term.

Johanna McPhee, a third-year mechanical engineering student at UNB, knows all too well how expensive textbooks can be.

“I spent approximately $800 on textbooks last semester. All my textbooks were purchased at the UNB bookstore. One was a used copy and the four others were all new,” said McPhee. “I buy the majority of my textbooks new, but when the option exists I buy them used.”

The high cost of textbooks does not rest solely on the responsibility of the UNB Bookstore, which doesn’t actually set the price of textbooks.

“We understand how expensive they are because publishers set the prices. We’re always looking for ways to help with the cost of books,” said Shelley Nowlan, the general manager of the UNB Bookstore.

One of these options is a textbook rental service.

“The rental program is based per term. You can rent a book and return it by the return date for generally half the price of a new book. It varies book by book, but it’s usually about half,” said Nowlan.

In order to rent a book, students will need to present a credit card for filing purposes.

Digital copies of text books can also be purchased at discounted prices.

“There are little cards that can be purchased … right here off our shelf. You can buy them on our website if it’s available digitally, which a lot of our books are,” Nowlan said.

In the entryway of the bookstore, students may notice a small window to the left. This is the home of one of the lesser-known services the store offers: the buy-back program.

“We do buy back here at the bookstore all year long,” said Nowlan. “A lot of students don’t really take advantage of the program because they’re not aware of it.”

The buy back window is open all year long and is based on the demand for specific textbooks.

“If an instructor is using a book for an upcoming term, and it doesn’t have to be the next term, that creates demand in the bookstore system and we can buy the book,” Nowlan said.

The books that are bought back from students then become used books and are sold for 25 per cent off of the original price.

The UNBSU also provides a means for students to save money on textbooks through their Book Buy and Sell.

“Book Buy and Sell is an event where students can drop off used textbooks for resale and other students buy the used textbooks at a lower price compared to new ones,” said Georgie Kokolantonakis, the Buy and Sell coordinator.

This year the Book Buy and Sell runs from Jan. 12 – 16. One dollar from each textbook sold also goes towards UNBSU’s charity, Shinerama.

“Book Buy and Sell is an easy way to save money. Most of the time the textbooks are at least half the price of the original price of the book, and you are also helping fellow students who have their textbooks up for sale,” Kokolantonakis said.

Although a help, unfortunately, these options do not always work for students.

“I have gone once to the Book Buy and Sell but did not have much success in finding the textbooks I was looking for,” said McPhee.

“I have never rented a textbook either as I like to keep my textbooks for future reference.”

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