Textbook Buyback Program Not Helping Students

To the Editor:

This is a response to Leslie Guilbault’s letter in last week’s issue of the Colgate Maroon-News. In her letter, Guilbault outlines the merits of the Textbook Buyback program at the Colgate Bookstore. As the founder of the Book Exchange website, an alternative to Textbook Buyback, I feel that I should point out the options that the Colgate Bookstore has to improve Textbook Buyback.I think the single most important argument I can make here is that the Colgate Bookstore needs to give us more information. In my opinion, the Buyback program is not helping Colgate students as much as possible. It forces us to haul all of our books to downtown Hamilton, wait in line for up to an hour and then find out if our books are worth anything. Guilbault states that Buyback rates vary between 5 percent and 50 percent. That’s a difference between getting back $10 or $100 for $200 worth of books.My proposed solution would be this: publish these numbers. Let students know what they can expect before they get in line each semester. Currently, the Colgate Bookstore website just has some general claims and statistics, similar to those stated in Guilbault’s letter. Why not publish real-time Buyback rates on there as well? That way, students would be able to make an informed decision. The Book Exchange already lets students compare offers between individual student sellers; there is no reason that the Colgate Bookstore can’t compete using its own website.That said, there is one point in Guilbault’s article that I would like to address directly. Guilbault states: “the Book Exchange’s website includes a page of lengthy disclaimers…” and “The Book Exchange operates on an ‘as is,’ or ‘buyer beware’ system.” I would argue that Book Exchange is based on common sense above anything else. The Book Exchange’s Terms of Service are actually very similar to those of most popular student websites and search engines. The terms are available at https://bookexchange.colgate.edu/terms.php. Feel free to have a look.There are valid arguments to make for both the Book Exchange website and Textbook Buyback program. Clearly I’m slightly biased towards the Book Exchange. Still, I believe that having both services around generates healthy competition that will ultimately benefit students and the University.

Pieter Hooimeijer