Beer and knowledge are hard to return

Chris Slattery

Do you remember all of that money that you spent at the beginning of this semester?

No, not for those prostitutes (we said we weren’t going to talk about that again). I’m talking about the thousands upon millions of hyperbolic dollars you spent on textbooks for your classes. It’s going to feel great getting all of that money back next week, right? You could buy PS3s for your whole family. You could name a star after someone. You could even — gasp — invest in next semester’s textbook purchases.

All of this is based upon the assumption that if you put a lot of money into these books and then sell them back to the same store in the same shape (save for a few tear stains acquired this past week), you’ll get a lot of your money back. That’s how houses work.

Maybe that’s not the best analogy in this economic climate…

My point is that textbooks don’t work that way. Instead, I’ll use a simile that is a bit more accessible to this age group: Buying a textbook is like buying a keg. Now, normally I would never equate information to beer — as the more beer you drink, the less information you appear to know — but look at it this way: When you’re buying a textbook, you’re not just buying a book (I mean, technically you are; I’m not one of those people who thinks the universe is a cat or that 2 2 = fish or anything). When you’re buying a textbook, you’re purchasing knowledge, as (negative adjective) as that sounds.

You are essentially giving up a paycheck for new facts that will make you, at the bare minimum, competent at your chosen career pathway. A hundred years ago, people would have killed for the things we know (and advanced warning of the Great Depression, probably). We should read each textbook from cover to cover and expand our minds in ways we never thought possible.

Once we use up all of that knowledge, the keg is empty and we can return it for a small deposit we put down. Of course, sometimes it gets frustrating when the store doesn’t carry that type of beer anymore or they’ve upgraded to a newer keg. I could go on about how selling red plastic cups at a party is a lot like getting paid to write a paper for your roommate, but I don’t have that kind of time.

We hate everything about textbooks: We hate how much they cost when we buy them. We hate having them; they become a pain when professors actually assign readings and homework from what was apparently supposed to be a $300 desk-space-waster. (There’s no time for learning now! “American Horror Story” is about to start!) We even hate selling textbooks back. Do you understand how crazy that is? We are essentially getting free money from a store that already has an ample supply of the texts we’re returning.

It’s a business they’re running and there are probably online retailers that sell books for less and buy them for more anyway. While you’re on the internet, though, see if any PS3s are on sale. My family is kind of expecting them now.

[email protected]