Rutgers University Senate
Student Affairs Committee
Report on Charge S-0213
(Book Buyback)

April 2003

Original Charge S-0213:  Examine the issue of faculty placement of textbook orders and its effect on book buyback prices.  Provide recommendations on methods of encouraging more advanced placement of textbook orders.

The buyback process is a hard process to perform.  The Bookstore needs to know the books the professors are requesting for the next semester so that they can inform the wholesalers on what books they need, as well as offering students a chance to sell books back in order to pay for new books.  However if a professor does not submit his/her book request then the whole process is thrown into disarray.  So much so that by the time the bookstore does know the required books the buyback price of the studentís books has gone down drastically, so that the bookstore does not lose money.

According to the manager of one of the Follett bookstores at Rutgers, the bookstore does have a deadline for all orders to be in, however if a professor does not meet the date, there is nothing the bookstore can do aside from requesting the order from the professor as soon as possible.  The manager also said that in previous years that bookstore had not been firm enough to the faculty in terms of telling them the reason behind the deadline and how it helps not only the bookstore but also the students.  The manager also commented on how professors do not always simply not had in a book order sometimes they forget, or do not know the books they will be using, or even what classes they will be teaching.

Professors feel that aside from having the bookstore be more aggressive in getting the requests there is not much that can be done to get professors to hand in their requests on time, or early.  Senator Schiavo (FAS-C) stated in a meeting of the student affairs committee, on how he placed an order early, and all the students he had that semester thanked him later because they were able to sell their books back for a descent amount of money.  He also stated that the following semester he had no complaints from students about finding the book.

Students however feel the inefficiency of communications between the bookstore and professors the most.  A Cell Biology and Neuroscience student purchased a brand new text physics textbook for $128.  At the end of the semester when he went to sell the book back he was offered 10% of the amount he paid for it because the bookstore was unsure if the professor would be using the book the following semester.  That is just one of many stories of students suffering a financial loss because of the lack of communications between the faculty and the bookstore, for a class that is not even a part of their major.

In the past year two of the Follett managers are new, and they are focused on being more aggressive at the buyback process.  Therefore the Student Affairs Committee recommends that the buyback process for the next two semesters be studied to see the impact of the new aggressive tactics done by the managerial staffs at the bookstores are successful.