A texbook case

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By Angela Forgeron

New changes to a Parliamentary bill could force students to pay more and wait longer for books.

If passed, Bill C-32 will stop or restrict booksellers from importing used textbooks into Canada and from buying books from U.S. publishers.

The Ryerson Bookstore manager, Peter Brunner, said most of the used textbooks students purchase are bought by American wholesalers from Canadian students.

The books cross the U.S. border and, when required, about 60 per cent are shipped back to Canada. If the proposed bill is passed, Canadian bookstores will not be allowed to purchase books from American distributors, forcing Canadian students to buy new texts.

Used textbooks sell for 75 per cent of the original cost and do not have GST. “It would be ideal for [Canadian] publishers if students buy new books,” said Brunner.

John Finlay, executive director of the Canadian Booksellers Association, agrees.

“There will be fewer used textbooks available. In turn, students will have to buy new books. The used books account for $18-million in sales a year at Canadian campus stores. That really is the crux of the argument. There is no real reason to do that to students.”

The latest registration technologies allow students to enroll just before classes begin, delaying confirmation of the number of students per class. Bookstores must then rely on quick delivery service.

“Until now, if a Canadian agent was out of stock we could go directly to a U.S. source to import books,” said Brunner. “U.S. suppliers can fill an order for books within days, but Canadian suppliers can take weeks. The new bill would prohibit this unless you get permission from a Canadian agent which is hard to do.”

The Canadian Publishers’ Council is fighting for the changes. “The loss of revenue from order to the U.S. used book wholesalers undermines the development of new titles by Canadian publishers.”

“We think that if these two amendments to the Bill are passed it will mean poorer service and higher costs for students,” said Finlay.

The third reading of Bill C-32 will be held in Ottawa around mid-February.

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