The mathematics of school textbooks
It’s all easy in primary school. You send the money in, you get a box of goodies. There’s few textbooks, and almost all are kept at and owned by the school.
It gets more complicated and expensive in secondary school.
So here’s the scenario: Two kids, two years apart. The school has a secondhand book scheme.
At the end of the year, books are sold for two-thirds the retail price, with the seller getting three-quarters of that. So basically for cashing in your books, you get half the money back — assuming you bought them new in the first place.
So with two kids going through, I’m trying to work out if it’s worth selling them through the scheme, or holding onto them unused for a year before using them again.
If you bought $100 of books new at the start of year 1, you’d get $50 back for selling them at the end. If you bought them back again for year 3, it’d cost you $66, and you’d sell them again for $50. Total cost $100 – $50 + $66 – $50 = $66.
If you bought them secondhand originally, the cost is $66 – $50 + $66 – $50 = $32.
If you bought them new, and held onto them until the end of year 3, it’s $100 – $50 = $50.
If you bought them secondhand, and held onto them until the end of year 3, it’s $66 – $50 = $16.
The big unknown here is whether or not the school decides to changes the textbooks along the way, as new editions and better texts are published. If they change them before year 1, you can’t buy them secondhand in the first place, but must buy new. If they change them for year 2, you can’t sell them in the first place. If they change them for year 3, and you held onto them, you have to buy new ones anyway, and you missed your opportunity to sell.
I wonder how fast the turnover is. Perhaps it pays to sit down and be selective, holding onto things which are recent editions.
And just when I thought I’d figured out what to do, my sister mentioned she can get publisher discounts through her work.