Book store prices reflect a monopoly on the Southern brand

J’Mari Hughes  Reporter

When I shop in the school store, it is strictly because I want a snack and forgot to bring one to campus with me, not because I willingly want to spend two dollars on a bag of air that happens to have a few chips in it. If I am ever paying for a new textbook from the school store, it is because after searching far and wide, I could find it no place else, not because I willingly want to spend half my paycheck on a book I would never buy if I was not in school.

Often times I buy a bagel from Dunkin Donuts in the Student Center, which costs me over a dollar more than what I would pay at any other Dunkin. It was the simple white t-shirt beholding the words “Bend and Snap” priced at $30 that really made me wonder: Since when is a school bookstore the place to find clothing based on early ‘00s movies and more importantly, why is school merchandise so expensive?

I roamed around a few stores on campus and looked at their prices: over $2 for Sour Patch Kids, over $3 for chocolate covered pretzels, and the bizarre misconception that $5 for two bottles of water is a good deal. In the past I saw a bag of candy for $0.44, and I was extremely confused. It was not expired; it was not in the clearance section. I decided to buy it, whether the price was a mistake or not and when I discovered it was not, of course I bought another couple of bags—it was only $0.44. Recently, I saw the same bag of candy for $1.59.

My favorite part of the bookstore, the clearance section, sells clothes for 25 percent less than usual. That is a deal, but one may still find him or herself spending $40 on a sweatshirt. Perhaps these businesses know that since they are the only ones selling the university brand, they make them as expensive as they can. If students want them so badly, the bookstore is their only option.

According to the National Association of College Stores, the average student spends $655 a year on textbooks, but not me. Having been in college for two years now, I have learnt that when in need of textbooks, the bookstore is not the place to go unless you like spending unnecessary loads of money. A textbook I once needed sold for $85 in the bookstore and I got it online for $30. But as my professor once said, textbooks are expensive because their writers need to make money somehow.

Alex Neal, CEO of Campus Books, told the New York Post that since publishers do not make money off of used-book sales, corporate book companies use their business is to try and eliminate old editions thereby forcing students to buy new ones. New ones that, according to the Huffington Post, are 812 percent more expensive than they were 30 years ago.

With sites such as Chegg, eBay, and Campus Books, students are able to purchase their necessary textbooks for a fraction of what they would pay in a school bookstore. As for snacks, of course there are drug stores and convenience stores for those who do not want to pay that extra $0.75 for candy. Though I am sure we would all appreciate it, I do not see school stores lowering prices any time soon. They need to make money.

Photo Credit: August Pelliccio

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