Money for used textbooks worth the wait

U of M students looking to sell used textbooks can get cash upfront at the BookStore, or a potentially bigger chunk of change with patience if they sell their used books at Archives, the students’ union used bookstore.

The University of Manitoba BookStore is currently holding its textbook buyback, held three times a year. Its website states that there are two options for selling used textbooks through the bookstore. There is no receipt required, just a student number and photo ID.

If the book will be resold within the Bookstore, students will get 50 per cent of the new book price back. If the book is being bought back by the bookstore on behalf of used book wholesalers or other university bookstores, students can get 10-30 per cent of the price back.

“For the wholesalers, typically 10 per cent [of the new price], but when we purchase it for another Canadian university, then they’ll generally get 30 per cent,” said Leta Beyak, bookstore manager.

Being a member of the Canadian Campus Retail Alliance, the Bookstore operates a used book buyback all year long, buying back books on behalf of universities and wholesalers across Canada. The bookstore can then sell a student’s textbook to another university, even if it is no longer being used at the U of M.

“Fifteen years after I finished university, I decided to see if I could return or sell back one of my philosophy textbooks and I could,” said Sharon Pearce, manager of the textbook department at the BookStore.

“It wasn’t here, but it was somewhere in North America. [The BookStore] is a place where you might make some money on something that you’re not going to use anymore.” Pearce said that the BookStore sells approximately14,000 of the 20,000 used books it buys back a year.

Beyak said the BookStore sells approximately $1 million in used textbooks per year to students.

This does not include the amount made on books sold through other universities or wholesalers.

According to Sid Rashid, U of M Students’ Union president, Archives allows students to set their own price, and once the book has been sold, the student receives 80 per cent of the book price back, with Archives taking a 20 per cent consignment price. Most books sold at Archives sell for approximately 60 per cent of their current retail price.

According to Rashid, Archives is generally more flexible than the Bookstore when it comes to the condition of the textbook.

“They don’t have to rely on what the bookstore considers to be a ‘useful’ or ‘saleable’ book, meaning books for smaller classes can actually get sold,” said Rashid.

Once the book sells, the students have a five business day waiting period before they can pick up their payback, as students purchasing books through Archives have five business days to return the book if they deem it not appropriate for their course.

Rashid said Archives generates approximately $500,000 a year. With the 20 per cent consignment fee, the union takes $100,000 of this amount.

After deducting the expenses associated with staffing and general management, the union is left with $30,000 in net revenue that is distributed back into UMSU’s general budget. Archives sells approximately 12,000 books per year.

Any unsold books are either picked up by the student prior to the deadline or forfeited.

A direct comparison of a political science textbook sold both at Archives and the Bookstore found that at the bookstore, students would pay $59.21, where at Archives, the textbook’s price ranged from $40 to $50.

In terms of a student wishing to sell a book at either location, if they had sold the book through the BookStore they could make up to $37.91, half of the new book price set at $78.95. If the student were to sell the book through Archives, although students set their own price, in this case they could have made $32 to $40.

“I sold [a textbook] with Archives and it was gone within two days. I think if you sell your book at a price that’s below what the BookStore is asking for, it will sell,” said Devin Hasanall, a faculty of science student.

Hasanall said if he were to sell his textbooks in the future, he would probably go through Archives again. Others, like faculty of environment student Marvic Abarra, would choose the
BookStore instead: “I’d rather get more than just get an amount upfront.”