Archive for Saturday, August 17, 1991


August 17, 1991


The typical Kansas University freshman has to come up with are you ready at least $200 to buy required textbooks for the first semester of classes.

And first- and second-year students are the lucky shoppers, according to operators of the two Lawrence textbook stores that serve KU students.

"I've seen some upper-division courses that just for one course it's $130," said Mike Reid, manager of KU's bookstores in the Kansas Union and Burge Union.

Bill Muggy, owner of Jayhawk Bookstore, 1420 Crescent, said textbook prices are expected to increase 5 percent to 10 percent this year. That has been the trend the past 10 years, he said.

"Book prices will continue to go up," Muggy said. "It's attributable in many ways to the publishing industry itself."

REID SAID economic conditions drive up book prices. For example, freight costs increased during the Gulf War.

In addition, students and faculty are demanding more out of textbooks, Muggy said. They want more charts and more pictures all of which add to the cost of production.

He said the publishing industry also is expanding offerings of supplementary textbook materials, such as computer software and videos.

The rapid pace of scientific discovery also compels faculty to insist on the latest textbook, rather than one that has been in print a few years.

"Any more, technology changes so quickly that books are out of date in three or four years in any subject," Reid said.

"AND," HE SAID, "textbooks are different than any other kind of book. They are printed in much smaller quantities than a mass-market book."

The best way for students to cut costs is to buy used textbooks. Normally, a used book will cost 25 percent less than a new copy, Muggy said.

Reid recommended that students sell the majority of their textbooks at the end of each semester. Some students keep books, thinking they will be used later in life, he said.

"That rarely occurs," he said.

The bookstores will pay the most for books that will be used again next semester at KU. If not in use the next term, students will be paid 10 percent to 40 percent of the original cost. Some books have no value, Reid said.

Both bookstores purchase used books from students. If faculty continue to use that edition, the books are resold the following semester, Muggy said.

"But there are always going to be courses that used books won't be available," Muggy said.

THE MAJORITY of textbooks sold at the union bookstores are new. Three-fourths of the books sold at Jayhawk Bookstore are used.

The Jayhawk and union stores also have instituted a program whereby books can be pre-ordered and picked up when the semester starts.

"It gets the individual the greatest number of used books with the least amount of hassle," Muggy said.

"It also keeps the crowds down in the aisles," Reid said. "And they get the right book."

Reid said 11 percent of the all books sold through the union are returned. Students buy the wrong book or find out they must change their class schedule.

"They can save some of that headache by making sure they enroll in a class before they buy," Reid said.

At the same time, Muggy said students should shop early. They have a better chance of finding a used textbook, he said.

"All too frequently students wait until the last minute," he said.

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