It's called the "Wailing Wall."
An unassuming bookcase, the wall is nonetheless the catalyst for groans from Kansas University students shopping for their textbooks.
Slowly counting the number of books required for Western Civilization 115, the students gasp when the sum is computed: 14, from DeTocqueville to Wollstonecraft.
The Western Civ section of the Kansas Union Bookstore is affectionately called the "Wailing Wall" by the employees who assist the disbelieving students.
Yes, it's true; KU students read 14 books for the second phase of Western Civ. But the books only total $45.45, less than the two books required for Organic Chemistry, which ring in at a hefty $90.
Bill Getz, assistant manager of the Union bookstore, said students should expect to shell out about $500 for a semester's worth of textbooks.
Welcome to college.
GETZ SAID publishers are now in the process of quoting prices for fall 1990 textbooks. That price determines the bookstore's price to students.
"As books are delivered, we are given the price from which our price is based," he said.
Usually, prices increase by 5 percent to 10 percent any given year, Getz said, adding that he doesn't expect any shocks for the fall.
"In general, there doesn't seem to be an exorbitant price increase this year," he said. "Occasionally, one publisher will go up a lot, but I think it's safe to estimate a 5 percent yearly increase on textbooks."
This fall, the bookstore will offer about 2,500 different titles and expects to sell more than 100,000 books.
JAYHAWK BOOKSTORE, 1420 Crescent Road, also sells course textbooks. Bill Muggy, who owns Jayhawk, was not available for comment. The bookstore is being renovated this summer and will be ready for students returning to the Hill in August.
Many students will buy books with the familiar yellow "USED" sticker. Getz said the Union Bookstore tries to offer as many used books as possible. The difference between buying new and used books can translate into big savings, he said.
The Pocket Aristotle, required for WC 114, is $5.95 new and $4.50 used. Students who buy a used copy of Brave New World will save $1.20. A used copy of St. Augustine's Confessions is also $1.20 less than the new copy.
"Our policy is to provide as many low-priced books as possible," Getz said.
DURING FISCAL year 1988, the average price of a textbook including paperbacks was $13.50, Getz said. All of the books for Western Civ are paperback, but science and math disciplines usually require the more expensive hardback textbooks.
To prevent wasted money, Getz suggests that students especially freshmen wait to buy their textbooks until classes have started. At the Kansas Union Bookstore, students who return unused textbooks within 10 days get a full refund. But a receipt must accompany the books, Getz said.
Saving receipts turns out to be an advantage because the bookstore pays back a 7 percent dividend. To take advantage of the student dividend rebate, students must save their receipts and turn them into the bookstore during specified semesters.
FOR PAYMENT, students may use their own cash, checks and credit cards or they may charge their books to their parents. Getz said students also may bring in a check drawn on their parents' account.
Pre-packaged textbooks are becoming more popular, Getz said.
"They send a form in with all of their classes, and then we get their books ready for them," he said. "There are more students doing that, and that's a change."
Getz said he expects the crunch to hit when students return to campus to pay fees.
"It's usually pretty hectic until about the third week of classes," he said.