Despite student complaints of rising costs, the textbook annex will remain a campus institution, according to Director of Dining and Bookstore Services Mary Kennedy.
When renovations of Moore Hall, the current home of the textbook annex, begin next year, a new location will need to be found for the annex. According to Kennedy, Coles Tower may have vacant space, since its layout already includes a large student storage area that could be used for shelving textbooks.
Re-installing the annex in Moore after renovations is probably not an option, so the annex's move will most likely be a permanent change.
Despite its move, staff of the textbook annex believe that the annex will continue to be the primary source students use for purchasing textbooks.
Trying to find books elsewhere can be very complicated and frustrating for students, Kennedy said. The textbook annex also offers books and compilations of articles for specific classes that would be difficult or impossible to find from other sources, she said.
Rising textbook prices at Bowdoin and at colleges and universities across the nation are a concern for many students. According to a report by the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), "Textbook prices have risen at twice the rate of annual inflation over the last two decades."
These rising prices may be explained in part by new technology. It is now common practice that CDs and DVDs are packaged with the textbooks, which can significantly increase the textbooks' prices.
The Student Aid Office web site recommends planning for $2,070 worth of "books, supplies, and personal expenses" per year.
Many students buy used books, since they often cost significantly less than their newer counterparts. Selling books back to the textbook annex at the end of the semester is also an option to reduce costs. Students can expect to be refunded about 50 percent of their books' values when they sell their books to the annex, according to Kennedy and Assistant Director for Bookstore Operations Cindy Breton. This only applies if the books will be used in a class next semester, and often that is not the case.
"I definitely think we should get more money for our used books because they sell them back to us at much higher costs," said Lindsey Bonner '08.
"Some of the more expensive books they didn't buy back at all because professors weren't using the same book again next semester. When I sold back the smaller books that were originally $15 to $20, I got $1.50 back. It's ridiculous," she said.
Though students are often frustrated by the amount they receive for their used books, the textbook annex is non-profit, so all of the money it makes is used to help support the College, according to Kennedy.
First-year students are often surprised by the high cost of their books. According to the GAO report, "New students are in for a big surprise once they get through the long line to the register."
Rachael Fleming '09 and Caitlin Hylan '09 were shocked when they saw the bills for their books. "Some teachers don't take textbook prices into account," said Hylan. Some of her classes had booklists that cost significantly more than others.
For now, there are no plans to change the current workings of the textbook annex. Not all students are happy with the prices there, but many students find their alternatives limited.