University Shop addresses textbook buy-back policy

Stephen Iatesta

As the semester nears its midway point, it is safe to assume that most students have purchased most, if not all, their required books for classes and now see their checking accounts nearing zero with the rising costs. Soon May will come around, and students will once again hit the University Shop to return their books for monetary compensation. 

Some students receive almost half of what they paid for their books.  However, there are others who are offered almost nothing for all the books that they have purchased from the previous semester.  The Villanova University Shop maintains its own rules and regulations on their management of the store and the prices of the books.  

The Villanova University Shop website clearly states that the store “buy[s] titles for our own inventory [and] we pay one half of the current new price for that title, regardless of whether you bought the book as new or used or where you bought it.”

That sounds great, but what about the students who are offered much less than half of the value of used books?  A student, who prefers not to be named in this article, said, “It is unfair that I paid so much money for my books and in return I get practically nothing.”  Other students have reported that they too feel cheated. 

Frank Henninger, the director of the Villanova University Shop, explained why some books are priced lower than expected when students try to return them.  

“In public high schools, tax money is used not only to pay for the student to attend the school, but it also covers the amount of money the school spends on books.  In private high schools, books are either part of the hefty tuition one has to pay, or some private schools arrange some kind of program in which students simply buy the books at a certain date and time that is suitable for them.  

In high school, it is up to the departments what books are allowed for the students to learn from.  The teachers in high school have no control over that aspect of the education system — they simply teach the material.”  

He explained that in college, however, this power is given to the professors, who choose which books they feel are appropriate for their students.  For example, one philosophy teacher may decide to tell his or her students that they must read certain particular books.  On the other hand, there can be a philosophy teacher who is teaching the exact same course, but with different required books.  

Some departments at Villanova give the professors no limitations in terms of the number of books assigned or which books they can use.  Students who purchase books for a semester are at risk since it is not guaranteed that those same books will be used again next semester.

 Furthermore, Villanova offers students less if their books are not likely to be used again. The Villanova University Shop focuses its attention on maintaining its inventory. Books that the store does not need obviously are less valuable to them.

Villanova students sometimes do not know if the books they have purchased at full price will be used in the future.  

This idea doesn’t seem to bother some students because they have other alternatives for selling their books – mainly using the Internet – but could there be a simpler answer to this problem?  

Henninger suggested that students discuss this matter even further in order to develop ideas for saving money on books for all Villanova students.