By Arne Karlsson
Thousands of students at BYU bought new textbooks from a selection of roughly 3,700 different titles last week. For many it was an expensive ordeal, as some of the textbooks from last semester did not make it through the Buyback.
?The publishing industry really determines when they will print new editions of books,? said Maradee Hansen, BYU textbook section manager. ?They work with the authors.?
At BYU, the faculty makes the decisions regarding which books are to be renewed. They submit their requests to the textbook department, which in turn works to buy enough books.
?New editions call for a rewrite of the course,? said Tom Hirtzel, BYU textbook supervisor. ?The syllabus needs to be completely rewritten. The problems and examples must be redone. It?s a class management issue. Yet some faculty can?t wait for new editions.?
Teachers and students benefit from keeping with text as long as possible.
?The teacher has time for other things, such as research and mentoring,? Hirtzel said.
There are some faculty members who want to keep old editions, but eventually they run out of books.
?The publisher doesn?t make any money in the used book market,? Hansen said. ?For the student, there is Buyback through BYU, and there are other options, but the publisher has that one year of the edition to make all its money.?
Different students may reuse a used book multiple times, without the publisher getting any of the revenue.
New editions may contain new material, new images or a CD-ROM. These changes are how the publishers make money.
Previously, BYU Press was the biggest publisher on campus. But that changed as some faculty went mainstream. There is now a return to BYU Academic Publishing. There are illustrators, editors and typesetters on staff.
The current edition of the Physical Science 100 is a custom publishing from another publisher. It only has 16 color pages. BYU Academic Publishing is rewriting that book. The new one will be a full-color edition and it will be cheaper because everything stays on campus.
?We?ll have a better product at a better price,? Hirtzel said.
Hirtzel also explained why some classes change books from semester to semester.
?The classes that do change books very often are those who change out of necessity,? Hirtzel said. ?Highly technical disciplines like science and engineering?they are on a two to three year cycle.?
Hansen also complimented the consensus that exists in some departments. However, there are classes where different sections have different titles.
One such class is Economics 110, where every teacher prefers a different book.
?The best experience students can have is to buy and sell back their books through BYU Bookstore,? Hansen said.
Hansen also explained that sometimes students are upset because the Buyback will not give them any money for a certain title. Students should see Buyback as a service, not an entitlement. Students own the book when they buy it.
The textbook department is self-sufficient while maintaining low prices for the students. It is part of Student Auxiliary Services, and is not funded through tithing or other funds.
There are mostly big sections in fall and small sections in winter. Although a gamble, it may be worth it to hold on to it for when the need is greater.
?We have the largest buyback in the USA,? Hansen said. ?We look out for the students.?