Textbooks (and dignity) for sale

Joe Wright/File
Joe Wright/File
Joe Wright/File

“That’ll be $125.63,” the robber baron working at Copy Central says, clearly unfazed by the blatant theft they’re carrying out. After attempting and failing to veil our complete shock at the gross injustice before us, we instinctively look around to see if anyone’s called the police to report the robbery occurring on Bancroft Way. We eventually hand over our hard-earned cash and attempt to calculate how we’re going to afford the remaining six required texts we’ve got to buy for the rest of our classes. The crime of over-priced textbooks strikes yet again.

We should probably be used to this transgression by now. After all, every syllabus week is unfailingly accompanied by the dreaded list of required texts for all of our classes. This means that we’re faced with the same sad sapping of our bank accounts at the start of every semester. That’s right, every 15 weeks we’re forced to cave to textbook companies demanding a pint of blood and the promise of handing over our first-born child in exchange for their precious product.

Most of us wouldn’t choose to own these textbooks if our grades didn’t depend on it. We’re forced to buy something that’s both horrifically over-priced and unwanted in order to invest in our own future misery, as if the thousands of dollars in tuition isn’t enough. It’s difficult not to shed a tear over the fact that our scarce funds are going toward the promise of future weekends spent locked in Doe Library reading. The whole situation is remarkably similar to paying someone to punch us in the face a few times a week for the next five months. 

We’re more than willing to fork it over for causes that we see as fit. Spending money on food and travel that we actually want to experience is understandable. Paying for fun weekend adventures is way more enticing than handing over a few Benjamins for the promise of future suffering. But alas, said fun weekend plans will have to be forgotten. Our free time will now be dedicated to rounding up all the loose change that’s been collecting under the couch.

The worst part is that we know we’re being ripped off. If you really crunch the numbers, there’s no way the two reams of paper it took to make the readers we just bought cost more than $30. Never mind the cost of ink, printing companies can just start using the aforementioned pints of blood that everyone’s forfeiting at the cost of their education. This 400 percent markup is what Martin Shkreli’s dreams are made of. 

The underground black market of the UC Berkeley Textbook Facebook page is a real saving grace in these first few weeks of the semester. Thanks to the wonders of technology, we’re now able to acquire our textbooks while maintaining possession of our arm and leg. We’ve also taken to perusing Tinder to left-swipe a Daddy Warbucks to fund next semester’s books. Not that we’ll need them; we’re dropping out to become textbook distributors.

Contact Amanda Chung at [email protected].