Billy Collins 10 p.m., March 12
- Community Blog
- Normal Heights Through the Blue and White
This thing has been for sale forever and the price doesn't really get lowered or anything:
Runner-Up for tryin' hard! Never say die!
I'm going to run with the "College Edition" theme from yesterday's intro (shame shame if'n you didn't read!) and nominate the following for a Grand Prize:
The poster of that ad is selling a few other textbooks, each in their own separate ad, but I picked this one because the kneejerk little deconstructivist in me gets all gnarly minded over the phrase "presence of the past." Something I'm not really excited to get into right at this point due to being a)out of practice and b)unsure if mid-blog is the proper place for anything-but-practical lit-crit to take place.
Instead, I'll talk about the frustrations I faced at the hands of the college bookstore. This was particularly problematic for me my freshman year of college since I was without income at that point in my life and dealing with a bank account balance of approximately 8 dollars for most of the year. Buying all those expe$ive textbooks was just about the last thing I could afford at the time, but it's what I had to do because I wasn't about to try and pass courses by guessing wildly at the nature of the material. I did pass on buying texts for a few classes at some points during the college career, but trying to beg, borrow, or steal the books turned out to be a bigger pain in the neck than just shelling out the dough could ever have been.
I never really had a problem buying the literature that various classes required. I mean, in the long run a book is an okay investment--might even be able to read that sucker again someday! But the textbooks, that was a bummer each and every time. They're so costly. If used books aren't an option, it's easy to pay somewhere in the vicinity of a cool c-note for a paperback book. Terrible. Can you imagine charging $87.95 for a new crime thriller in paperback? It would never fly, of course, but textbook companies foist massive production costs off on the consumer and it burns like fire and poison; particularly if said consumer is a young, unemployed, college freshman who just came off a protracted stint of fry-cookery and intellectual stagnation during the "off years" taken to sort his life out some between periods of schooling. Personal trials and tribulations aside, I think I can touch on the fairly universal experience of Textbook Resale Anxiety (TRA), which occurs among college students en masse at the end of any given college semester. Situational in origina, TRA occurs when a college student--foolishly believing the bookstore's promise to "buy back" his books at the end of the term--brings a stack of textbooks with an initial purchase value in the neighborhood of $500 to the bookstore with hopes of selling them and recouping some of the cost. After waiting in what proves to be a shockingly long line, the college student usually has the following exchange with the bookstore clerk:
STUDENT(smiling, unaware): "I'd like to sell these books back, please."
CLERK (ironically, often a fellow student): "Ok. Let me check on that."
[CLERK pushes buttons, does things with barcodes and catalogues]
CLERK: "Okay, we're not buying that one, that one, or that other one, but we can give you eight dollars for that one."
Initial onset of TRA is usually characterized at this point by waves of shock an disbelief, followed by a sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach that the money spent on the expen$ive textbooks is lost and gone forever and ever. It turns out, after all, that the school isn't offering that class next term, or (if they are) the textbook has been released in a new edition. Either way renders the student's texts essentially worthless.
TRA runs its course and resolves in one of two ways:
1) The student refuses to acknowledge the trauma and maintains an illusory concept of the textbooks as valuable possessions. Said textbooks take up residence on a bookshelf in the student's (alternatively the student's parents') house and remain there, untouched, until moving them becomes a burden and they are donated to a thrift store, still somewhat under the impression that they have some value to someone.
2) The student realizes that he has been kicked in the shins (metaphorically of course), and leaves the bookstore with his stack of textbooks and dignity intact. Ideally, the student follows my own example in this situation--
--throw those suckers in trash and walk away!