The wholesale price of new textbooks is normally 75% of the suggested retail price (SRP). Most college bookstores charge the suggested retail price for new textbooks and 75% of the SRP for used textbooks.
At the end of the term, a student can resell his/her used copy for
- 50% of the SRP if a new edition is not planned in the near future and the bookstore is aware that the same edition of the textbook will be used again at the same university the next time the class is taught
- about 35% of the SRP if a new edition is not planned in the near future, but the same text will not be used the next time the class is taught [in this case, the bookstore resells the used copy to a used-book wholesaler, who in turn resells used copies of books to bookstores where the text will be used at 50% of the new book price]
- little or nothing if a new edition is forthcoming soon.
"User costs" for a student who buys a textbook and plans to resell it at the end of the term depend on the year in the life of the textbook edition in which the course is offered. We illustrate this for the common case where there is a new edition every third year and where the same text will
be used locally for all three years.
- In the first year of an edition, no student can buy a used text. They can resell their copy for 50% and hence the cost of using the book is 50% of the SRP.
- In the second year of the life of an edition, students can buy used texts for 75% of the SRP and can resell for 50%, so the cost of using
the book is 25% of the SRP.
- In the third year of the edition, students can buy used texts for 75% of the SRP, but are unable to sell them when the class is over. Thus the user cost is 75% of the SRP.
Our price lists highlight predicted arrival dates of new editions that are within one year of the current date. These are highlighted as a warning to instructors that students will probably not be able to resell their books at the end of the term.
In the first year of a new edition, instructors who wish to save their students a significant amount of money may choose to explicitly allow students to use either the new edition or its predecessor.