SUS working on a way to standardize textbook buying for science students

The Science Undergraduate Society (SUS) is trying to make the student textbook hunt a little bit easier.

According to SUS VP External Matthew Law, the society is developing a system to coordinate the buying and selling of lower-level class textbooks so that science students in those classes don’t have to do the ground work on their own.

“When I was a first year, the textbook market was really daunting," said Law. "You’ve got all these offers flying around and you have no idea what the value of everything is. I mean, look at all these textbooks. How do I go about this?”

As a quick fix, many first-years turn to the UBC bookstore to find their books, even though they may be able to obtain less expensive versions elsewhere.

“I think the reason why a lot of first-years like going to the bookstore and buying books … is because there’s that sort of stability — you know that you’re getting what you need. Even if you’re buying from someone [else] who may be trustworthy, you don’t know that.”

The SUS wants to provide a reputable source for books while helping students find what they need for less. They plan to buy textbooks from students at a discounted rate and sell them back to students the next year.

Their target demographic are students in first-year — the same level where science students have the most classes together.

“We’re aiming for the students that have finished the class, and they think selling the book for maybe thirty or forty bucks is kind of a hassle … because they don’t have the time," said Law.  “But if you just want to get rid of it and get a bit of money, just hand it off to us and we’ll buy it.”

So how does the SUS plan on keeping the books at an affordable rate?

“That’s still being discussed, whether we want to charge a bit more or charge at [used textbook prices]. The department’s goal isn’t to make money … we want to make sure it's about getting textbooks into the hands of students.”  

As of now Law is running the project himself. However, he ultimately hopes to create a position solely for the management of the textbook exchange.

For now, the project is still in its infancy. “There are a lot of details that are still murky,” said Law, but he is certain that “[they] want to be of use to students.” 

The SUS hopes to implement the program by January 2017.