On Campus

What do you do with your used textbooks?

Pristine comes at a price

When I started my first year of university, it felt really weird to actually buy my own textbooks. After years of having them simply handed over to me in public school, I was almost afraid to open them. To be the first one to crack the spine.

I was used to high school textbooks. But with these, no one would be sneezing on them, or writing in the margins. I was guaranteed to have a textbook that still had page 342. I’d be the first and only owner of these textbooks.

But all that specialness would come back to haunt me.

Yeah, high school textbooks are sometimes ratty and stained. But they’re also free. My university textbooks were new and pristine. And not so free. I was definitely paying for page 342.

A couple of my first year textbooks will still be useful next year as reference books. Like my genetics and chemistry textbooks. But most of my textbooks are perfect candidates for resale. I’m not going to be keeping titles like “Introduction to Political Sciences” for leisure reading.

It’s been almost six weeks since my last exam, and my clean and (still fairly) pristine textbooks have become perpetual roommates.

But I don’t need my old textbooks anymore. I’d love to sell them, maybe even give them away. But I can’t get rid of them.

Because the most expensive books that I’ve ever bought are now absolutely and utterly worthless.

My physics textbook was a life-saver, helping me prepare for tests and quizzesPhysics textbook throughout this past year. Now I’m finished taking physics courses, and I don’t need the textbook anymore.

But I can’t sell it, or even give it away because now it’s outdated. The average shelf life of a university textbook is something like two years. And mine is past its expiration date.

I think this is even worse than selling it for a fraction of its value. Once you breathe on a textbook, its value drops over 50 per cent. Open it, and it’s basically worthless.

But at least you’re getting something for it, if you can sell it. Even if it’s only a fraction of its original cost. And you know it’s got a good life somewhere, helping some other poor student prepare for an upcoming test or exam.

Instead, I’m now stuck with twelve pounds of paper that cost me over $500.

– Photo courtesy of basykes

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