A friend of a friend (props for a ‘chain-post’!) was discussing how students have a terrible habit of abusing the TUSBE system. TUSBE, for those of you who do not know, is the Toronto University Student’s Book Exchange – a website where students in the Toronto Area (including those from York University, Ryerson University and all three of the University of Toronto campuses) can post their course textbooks online, free of charge, or peruse the list of available textbooks to purchase for a significant discount from other students.
Now, it seems that students have become a bit mistaken about how the system works – and after four years, I thought it would be worth sharing with newcomers how to go about TUBSE-ing (yes, I just made that up.)
BUYER’s TIP: Read the full description before you contact the seller: I’ve spent the last five days organizing with one buyer for a book I’ve already brought downtown for other students, and at the end of all of that work, he asks “What edition is it?” READ THE DESCRIPTION BEFORE YOU CONTACT THE SELLER! If there is any information that is not included in the description that you need to know, ask before you promise to buy the book.
SELLER’s TIP: On the other hand sellers, describe the book as much as you can, honestly and truthfully. You can spin poor areas to be positive – for example, I have a book with highlights and notes in it, but I got an 82(%) in the course, and I suggested the notes may be beneficial rather than detrimental to another student. Describe the book with as much info – title, author(s), edition and condition is important, along with price and your campus location (unless you are willing to commute). Another great idea is to include the course code for the class the book corresponds to, but also indicate it can be used for other courses. A student who isn’t sure might search “ENG200” and find your book.
BUYER’s TIP: When negotiating a price, be respectful: A friend of mine got an email inquiring about a book. The buyer said “Look, I will by the book for $__ and meet you tomorrow at ____ location at ____ time. Otherwise I am not buying it.” Whoa. First of all, there is no indication the price is negotiable. You are welcome to ask (in fact, I suggest you try to bargain) but in the end, as the buyer, you have to choose your pick from whatever discount is available to you.
SELLER’s TIP: Be flexible – students are looking for a deal. The most you will get back from the U of T bookstore for your book is 50% of the original price, so any money you make over that amount from selling it to a student is a deal. Offer the student other books in the same course area if you feel giving an additional discount isn’t going to work for you- you can sell more books and please the buyer with an overall deal. I often, in the description space on tusbe, post the bookstore price, and then my own, and explain the percentage discount. For example:
(blah blah description of book condition): Bookstore price $50 plus tax, will sell for $30 flat – that’s over a 60% discount!!! Contact asap!
BUYER’s and SELLER’s TIP: Exchange numbers: On the day of exchanging books with cash, its likely you won’t know the person or what they look like. Exchange cell phone numbers so if he is waiting at one entrance of Robarts and you are waiting on the other side, you don’t sit there like a fool all day. A simple text the day of the sale can remind a person about the price, or let them know what you are wearing/how you look so they can easily find you.
BUYER’s TIP: Check the book condition: When you get the book, don’t just pay up – look through for highlighting and other marks that you may not have realized. I bought a book thinking it was mint condition, and was surprised to discover highlights in some areas. It was my fault for not checking, but I paid a lot for the book that was promised to be highlight-free.
SELLER’s TIP: Keep track of several buyers – even if they all want the same book. Just how one buyer contacts many sellers, a seller should keep track of all their buyers. Often the book won’t get sold to the first person who asks, so it is best to keep track of sellers so you can reach them right away before they buy from someone else. When I get multiple emails about a book, I:
- Tell the person its been promise to someone else (e.g. Person A) before them and that Person A has 24 hours to get back to me otherwise the 2nd buyer (Person B) can have it.
- Get their phone number so that if my meeting on Tuesday doesn’t work out with Person A, I can text person B right away and say the book is available the same day for purchase.
- Plan a few potential meeting times with Person B, so if person A doesn’t show up, I know person B will meet with me the next day.
- Email Person B either way – whether the book is available for them to buy or it is sold – so that they can proceed with their options.
BUYER’s TIP: Never buy all your books in advance: Unless you are sure the book is available in the bookstore, never buy it in advance. It’s particularly important for students who have classes such as English or Drama where multiple books are involved. I bought a book that we were planning to read a week later for a class – the teacher realized it wouldn’t be in the bookstore on time, and dropped it from the list. Of course, I lost my money as the student wouldn’t take it back (understandably).
BUYER’s and SELLER’s TIP: Look for a big deal/sale: On the other hand, if you are sure the book still stay on the list, look for a packaged deal. In a class that requires many books, previous students will often have many of the books you need. I always ask students who are buying 1 book from me: “Do you need any other books in English, Drama, Poli Sci or Criminology?” I have books in all those areas, and I find asking can make a difference. A student who planned to buy a $9 book from me, ended up paying $74 for several books. Not only is that a seller dream (as I get rid of many books and get a lot more money) but the student (as a buyer) saved a ridiculous amount buying them from me, rather than them each at a bookstore.
SELLER’s TIP: Once you have sold the book, remove it right away from the online TUSBE catalog. It is unfair to sellers to have a book posted online, and a buyer contacts you eagerly only to find out it wasn’t available.
BUYER’s and SELLER’s TIP: Most importantly, once both parties agree to buy/sell the book, that it is the correct edition and in the condition you want, agree on a price. Never come to a deal without knowing what price you intend to buy/sell the book for. Buyers – bring exact change: if the book is being sold for $73 dollars, don’t stand their innocently without the $3, so the seller has to settle for $70. It is likely they will ask for $75 or worse $80 instead. And sellers – always bring change – you know people come with big bills and may not come prepared – its good to make sure you are covered so you don’t get short-changed.
Important Concluding Point
In the end, (and I hate to say it) it is the responsibility of the buyer to make sure the book is the correct edition or condition, that it corresponds to your course syllabus and that it is fully updated for the class you need. Once money exchanges hands, the seller washes their responsibility from the book – returning it because you don’t like the condition or because the Prof changed the book list are not going to work. Bring your syllabus to meeting to check the chapters (some editions take out just a chapter or two, and add something different it) and bring exact change. Don’t be afraid to go through it in detail – meet at a time that the seller doesn’t mind waiting (I hate the “I need to rush to class”) and make sure you are 100% satisfied before you dish out the dough.
Any other thoughts/ideas/tips for the TUSBE system?