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September 03, 1997 - Image 42

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-09-03

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6C - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 3, 1997
Textbook costs
irritate students

UNIVERSITY

MSA leaders
hope to meet
students' needs

Publishing costs, late
orders from professors,
often keep prices high.
By Jason Stoffer
Daily Staff Reporter
Neither demands for civil rights nor
demonstrations against the War in
Vietnam caused the largest mass arrest in
University history.
The most popular cause at the University
in the 1960s was textbook costs.
On Sept. 25, 1969, more than 100 stu-
dents were arrested in a protest to demand
administrative help in opening a non-prof-
it, student-run bookstore.
While times have changed, textbook
costs continue to make a significant dent
in student pocketbooks, and are a cause

out of its way to help students and profes-
sors.
"We try to have more personalized ser-
vice," Smith said. "Ulrich's, Michigan
Book and Supply and the Union
Bookstore have a more generic,
McDonald's-type operation."
These other three major campus book-
stores also have used-book pricing that is
more profit oriented.
According to "How Books are Priced," a
pamphlet published by Barnes and Noble,
bookstore profit margins are significantly
higher for used, as compared to new,
books.
Bookstore profits on a new book are 15
percent, with used-book profits soaring to
33 percent.
Michigan Book and Supply textbook
buyer Irv Scheek said he "cannot justify"

By Katie Piona
Daily Staff Reporter

for irritation.
The Office of Financial
Aid estimates that text-
books cost students $530
per year.
LSA senior Kerri
Smith said this figure is
far from reality for many
students.
"Books cost me any-
where from $300-$600
per term," Smith said.
"Some of my English
courses have eight, 12 or
even 15 books, many of
which are unavailable
used."
Michigan Student
Assembly Vice President
OlgaSavic urges students
to save money by shying
away from new-book pur-
chases.

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these margins.
"I've been in business
for 32 years, and this is
how everyone all over the
country does pricing,"
Scheek said. "I pay stu-
dents the same price I pay
the used book warehouse
for books."
LSA sophomore Syed
Amir accused bookstores
of price gouging and said
this puts a strain on his

Baby pictures, grinning faces, pets and an alien endorsement.
Incoming students will soon become familiar with ima
on the bright flyers adorning the walls of campus buildiiigs
and the numerous candidates urging students to vote for
Michigan Student Assembly representatives.
Each November and March, University students cast ballots
for their school's student government representatives. In addition
to voting for candidates, students must approve referendums,
including fee increases and campus constitution amendments.
While colorful campaigns bring the most attention to MSA,
many members say they hope to bring a serious purpose to MSA.
MSA President Mike Nagrant said he
hopes to boost the number of students vot- '
ing in assembly elections to 25 percent.
"I think that's the goal that MSA should
shoot for," he said.
Approximately 5,000 students, or 15 per-
cent of the student population, voted during
the assembly's March presidential elections, z.
the largest number ever. Many students
attribute the increase in voter turnout to
MSA's new online-voting option.
The assembly's 49 members meet once Nagrant
a week to discuss issues like the formation
of a student-regent position and the approval of funding to stu-
dent groups. Members also participate in committee work
throughout the week.
"The most important function is student group support, cer-
tainly," he said, referring to MSA's duty of dividing funds
among various student groups. "(MSA) is the official student
voice on campus."
During the 1996-97 MSA elections, students approved two fee
increases that will raise the MSA fee from $3.69 to $5.69 this fall.
Nagrant said the increase was necessary for the assembly to
meet all the funding requests from student organizations.
"There's one statistic that says it all: We fund 40 percent
student groups," Nagrant said.
Budget Priorities Committee Chair and SNRE Rep. Karip
Morgan said the fee increase is essential to enrich students'
lives because the funds contribute to numerous campus events.
"I'm just really excited about having that money for more
student groups;' Morgan said.
Half of the $2 fee increase will be allocated specifically for.
community-service projects.
Aside from giving money to groups on campus, MSA works
to change other aspects of the University.
Nagrant and Vice President Olga Savic are in the processO
creating a coursepack store for students to purchase coursepa-
cks without excess fees.
"Most likely, I think we can get it totally in place by winter,"
Nagrant said. "There's some progress being made:'
At the least, a bidding system will be organized by the fall
to get students the best coursepack deal, Nagrant said.
Rackham Rep. Ray Robb said graduate students do not get
a equal voice on MSA simply because they are outnumbered
by undergraduate representatives.
"It's been easy for MSA to overlook the concerns of graduae
and professional students, and that will have to change," Rd
said.

., . . . oisi
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"Always look for used and try to hit
ised book stores like David's or Dawn
Treader," Savic said. "Eventually, if
you've known people who have taken cer-
tain; classes, you can borrow or buy books
from them."
Officials at the independent bookstore
Shaman Drum Bookshop say the store is
,committed to holding down student costs.
Its efforts include selling a large number
of used books at little or no profit.
"I try to get at least 50-percent or 60-
;ereent used books to help students," said
Carrie Smith, Shaman Drum's textbook
office manager. "including labor costs,
we actually lose money buying back
books."
Smith said that Shaman Drum will go

p: 313 S. budget.
it~ a 62-7407, "Prices are high. This is
my first term here and I
I Oek paid about $60 for a used
£1<ey calculus book - this is
_2.. way too high," Amir said.
"Used bookstores should
.cut down the profit mar-
gins. In term of used
books, stores are ripping students off."
Scheek said students should place part
of the blame for soaring book prices on
the shoulders of publishers.
"Every year major publishers increase
prices 5-7 percent, on average, in May or
June," Scheek said. "At least half have
another large price increase in November
or December."
The Student Book Exchange, which has
1,000-1,500 participants each year, is one
option for students wishing to save money.
At the beginning of the fall and winter
semesters, students can put their books up
for sale through SBE, setting a price for
their used texts.
If the book is sold, the seller keeps 85
percent of the profits.
According to "Students' Return on

Used Textbooks," an economics honors
thesis by former University student Dan
Fox, SBE does not sufficiently solve text-
book pricing problems. Since the sale
does not take place until the beginning of
each semester, students find it inconve-
nient to store books, especially between
April and September.
Fox said high textbook prices are not
solely the fault of publishers and book-
stores.
He said they are partly attributable to
professors who do not turn the following
semester's book orders in on time.
Scheek said this delay inconveniences
bookstores significantly.
"After winter term, we had 12-13 per-
cent of lists in," Scheek said. "Unless we
have orders in, we need to send books
back to the warehouse and can only give
students a low wholesale price (for their
used books)."
Fox estimated that this problem costs
University students $1,000,000 per year.

University Associate Dean for
Undergraduate Education Lincoln Faller
said a letter is sent out each term urging
professors to turn book orders in on time.
However, he said a great deal of curricu-
lum development occurs between semes-
ters.
Education would suffer if professors are
forced to meet book-order deadlines,
Faller said.
"There is a trade-off between getting
book orders in on time for buyback and
getting innovative curriculum," he said.
"As educational innovation is maximized,
textbook buyback prices will be mini-
mized."
MSA President Michael Nagrant said
MSA is working to reach a compromise to
the situation.
"I see MSA establishing better relations
with the Senate Affairs Committee on
University Affairs," Nagrant said, refer-
ring to the faculty's governing body. "I'd
like to meet them halfway on this."

Rackham student Foued Benamara sifts through the books at Ulrichs Book Store on South
University Avenue at the start of the fall, 1996 academic term.

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