After much stomping around and desk-clearing, I’ve finally tracked down all of my receipts in order to see exactly how much I’ve spent on textbooks this year. There’s a lot to keep track of; since writing my initial post, I visited three more bookstores as well as the original ones another two or three times.
I’m going to give all of the stores initials so that we can keep track:
- BMBR — Campus store. Loathe.
- BMV — Discounted & used books. Usually my first choice.
- DB — Local used books. Self-proclaimed “world’s messiest bookstore” for 7th year running.
- TBE — Right next door to DB. Neurotically neat and a bit pricier; a mix of used and new texts.
- PDB — The least local of the three local places; lots of CDs as well as books.
Here’s the damage, starting with the most un-loved BMBR:
- Three Late Medieal Morality Plays, ed. G. A. Lester. $18
- What Maisie Knew, by Henry James. $16
- Statements, by Athol Fugard. $15
- Season of Migration to the North, by Tayeb Salih. $30
- Death and the King’s Horseman, by Wole Soyinka. $17
- The Palm-wine Drinkard and My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, by Amos Tutuola. $19
- Anna of the Five Towns, by Arnold Bennett. $20
- Nervous Conditions, by Tsitsi Dangarembga. $24
Average price: $20
- Arrow of God, by Chinua Achebe. $7
- The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner. $8
Average price: $7.50
- Waiting for the Barbarians, by J. M. Coetzee. $5
- Midaq Alley, The Thief and the Dogs, and Miramar, by Nagib Mahfouz. $11
Average price: $8
- Hamlet, by William Shakespeare.
- Ulysses, by James Joyce.
- Othello, by William Shakespeare.
- Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie.
Total: $20 (books were not individually priced)
Average price: $5
- Under Western Eyes, by Joseph Conrad. $7
- The Inheritance of Loss, by Kiran Desai. $9
Average price: $8
Now, in all of these calculations I have rounded to the nearest dollar (usually rounding up from .95 or .99) and I have left out books purchased for pleasure rather than school… of which there have been a goodly number as well. Probably I’d have to add about another $40 or $50 to these numbers. (Because when you’re spending $80 or $100 or $120 already, what’s another book or three?). Oh, plus another $70 for two french textbooks in a private sale. I forgot about those. So let’s call it $350 on books this month, all told.
But you can see the difference, can’t you? At the used bookstores, the average price per book is just over $7. At the campus store, the average price per book is a solid $20. That adds up really, really fast. It’s an incredible racket.
The most outrageous was Tayeb Salih’s Season of Migration to the North. It’s 169 pages long, has a large and kinda crummy print, and it cost $30. That’s 18 cents per page (yes… I actually bothered to figure this out). By contrast, a typical new mass-market paperback should cost something like $0.03/page (assuming a $12 cost and 400 pages, which is typical for a thickish mystery or suchlike). So ridiculous.
In conclusion, blah blah blah I hate the campus bookstores.
You other students — how has this season been for your pocketbooks thus far?