Textbook Economics


Every student knows the feeling when experiencing one of the worst parts of starting a new semester - paying for textbooks. Their high prices make it difficult for students to justify their purchase, but students often find some solace by reselling them after the semester is over. Oftentimes, students from Santa Monica College learn that trying to sell back their books is often confusing and frustrating.

Mzera Halilu, 25, an Economic Major, preferred to sell back her books to the SMC Buyback location, feeling that she received a better deal from the SMC buyback location. Halilu said that the SMC buyback is confusing because there are times that she “purchased expensive books , but the program won’t buy them back, it’s annoying”.

Assistant Bookstore Manager at Santa Monica College, Jaime Recinos, explains why the bookstore may not buy back textbooks from students. "One of the reasons might be because the instructor no longer uses the edition that was used the previous semester," Recino said. "The bookstore no longer has a need to purchase any more textbooks because it's no longer using the title."

Jessica Melara, a 21-year-old student studying Women's Studies, shared her experience selling back her books to the buyback program. Although Melara said the customer service was good, she was frustrated with the bookstore's low buyback offers. She said even though her books were in perfect condition, "...all they offer you is 1/3 of what you paid for, and you don’t even use the book.” She concluded by wishing that there was more information given to students regarding the process.

The SMC Bookstore website did not provide any information that would have prevented these misunderstandings from happening. The website only provided information on the store's hours of operation and location.

With these roadblocks to the school's buyback process, many students have turned to alternatives, most prominently Amazon. Cynthia Tellez, an 18-year-old freshman, planned to put her textbooks for sale on the website, as the process seemed easier to her. Daisy Marie Vargas, a 20-year-old student studying Social Work who already sold her textbooks to Amazon, said he had an overall good experience with the website.

Others have turned to the local book store, A&R Textbooks, located on Pico Boulevard and 17th Street. The store offers textbook buyback program year round for students who want to sell back their books at any time. Their website www.anrtextbooks.com provides details on their buyback program, textbook rental agreement, and refund policy.

Finally, textbook rentals have quickly been displacing textbook buybacks as the way most students manage textbooks. SMC's Bookstore Assistant Manager, Recinos has praised this development which simplifies the process for both the bookstore and students. Renting books would have prevented setbacks like Halilu's, who did not expect the bookstore to not offer any buyback for her textbooks. "What we used to do when purchasing at the end of the semester, those books are now being returned as rentals," Recinos said. As the SMC Bookstore Assistant Manager, Recinos explains that renting textbooks works as an alternative to the school's traditional buyback system.