By Melanie Craig
Consider it a version of textbook arbitrage. A student buys course-required readings at the Bookstore, finds cheaper ones online and returns the originals. The result: anywhere from $5 to $50 in savings per book.
That may be good for any cash conscious student. However, it?s bad for local business, and the BYU Bookstore is cracking down.
Since Spring Term, the Bookstore is not only keeping track of what books each students buy, they are also denying student returns if books are being replaced from other sources like Internet sites.
The move comes as a surprise to some students who would find cheaper new and used books online at sites like Half.com, operated by eBay.
The Bookstore has also changed how long books can be returned. No longer do students have two weeks to get a full refund for textbook purchases. Now they?ll have just seven days to get the whole value back. Books can be returned from Sept. 7 to 10 for 90 percent of the sale price and from Sept. 12 to 17 for 80 percent of the sale price. No refunds will be issued for texts after Sept. 17.
?We?re hopeful the students will understand the new policy is for their benefit,? said Tom Hirtzel, textbook manager at the Bookstore.
To get the news out, the Bookstore has put up signs, and employees are handing out hot pink flyers with the new policy to every student who purchases a book.
Although most students are OK with the new refund procedures, some have found problems with it.
?I think it?s restrictive and puts a monopoly on the Bookstore,? said Levi Haupt, a 23-year-old senior from Portland, Ore.
Whether students will honor the guidelines remains to be seen.
Hirtzel said this issue is answered simply through BYU?s Honor Code. Anyone attending BYU has signed the Honor Code and has agreed to be honest in their dealings with the university, he said.
When students buy books intending to return them while purchasing the book from another source, the Bookstore is presented with a problem.
Hirtzel said doing this takes away books from other students, which leads to more books being ordered, and then the Bookstore owning more books than it can sell.
?It essentially puts the university?s resources on the line,? he said. ?We don?t want to be confrontational. We just want to protect the university.?
The Bookstore is also swiping student IDs during their purchases, to enter students into a drawing for a textbook grant. One hundred textbook grants will be given out in Fall and Winter semesters. It?s to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the BYU Bookstore.
?I didn?t mind giving my student ID to the clerk,? said Lisa Taylor, a 22-year old senior from Dana Point, Calif.
Hirtzel said the swiping of cards is also to continue a relatively new program designed to build a student database of textbook purchases. Students can opt out of the program by not giving their ID card.
?The program is designed to help us help the students who truly deserve a fair refund from their textbooks,? Hirtzel said.
Because this is the first year implementing the new policy, Hirtzel said he is unsure of how the changes will turn out.