The National Association of College Stores‘ “College Store” magazine promoted an idea this month: it is in the best interest of campus bookstores to purchase all books from students during buyback, even those they cannot use. BWB has piloted a program addressing this need, one where the books also serve our literacy partners. This is our response when the issue surfaced recently on the NACS textbook listserv:
Paying cash to students for books your store can’t use is a conundrum.
One the one hand, students enjoy receiving something—anything—for their unwanted book; but, more importantly, students hate leaving your store with their old books in hand; according to TRU Research, students’ second largest complaint after cost of books is that their store doesn’t accept all books at buyback. Sessions at both CAMEX and ConTEXT went to lengths to highlight this point.
On the other, paying cash for books which offer your store little or no utility doesn’t make a lick of sense, not even to a simple country boy like me. Why buy something you can’t use?
Here is one solution: Through a program we’ve been piloting with members of the NCBA, we reimburse your store for any cash outlays in exchange for the books. Plus, we pay postage. We developed this model with tremendous input from stores like yours.
I appreciate the non-solicitation policy of this listserv, and just wanted to let you this program is available. Ueli Stadler (Reed College, NCBA President) among others, can attest to its success.
As many of you know, Better World Books is social enterprise modeled after Goodwill Industries; we offer for sale some of the books we receive, with their proceeds supporting a host of literacy organizations, primarily Books For Africa. Incidentally, one post on this topic humorously suggests Brad and Angelina floating the bill to send the books to Africa. While we’d love such an act of generosity, we’re not waiting for charity; we’re sustainable.
Under “Strategic Goal: Sustainability Policy” in NACS Board of Trustees “Memo from the Boardroom”: NACS is committed to engaging in environmentally friendly practices and utilizing sound business practices. What’s good for the environment and your bottom-line is a beautiful marriage, and we applaud NACS recent decision to join the Higher Education Sustainability Council. We’re glad to share this path with you, and are proud our model allows us to help solve the sustainability conundrum—how to give students cash for books you don’t need.