Dana Reed, a junior biology major, was shocked when she saw her receipt after purchasing textbooks. “I thought that there must have been some sort of mistake,” she told reporters. The cost of her assigned textbooks was extraordinarily low—so low, in fact, that she felt compelled to call the University of Maryland Book Store to investigate.
Her skepticism was not unwarranted. The average student spends more money on one textbook than they do on food for a month or alcohol for a week. Cases of Purchasing Textbook Stress Disorder (also known as PTSD) skyrocket at the beginning of the semester, flooding the Health Center with financially and emotionally distraught students.
“It’s a stressful time,” a Health Center nurse says. “This one student’s ‘Health and Wellness’ textbook cost so much that we had to prescribe her some anxiety medication. Except she couldn’t afford the medicine, so she tried to pay her bill with the textbook.”
“Obviously we accepted it,” the nurse added. “Those things are valuable, you know.”
It is no surprise, then, that many desperate students resort to alternative means to acquire their materials. These can range from pirating copies of the books online to stealing them outright–the textbook black market is estimated to generate more revenue than the actual university bookstore.
Thus, when Reed called the bookstore about her miniscule bill, manager Antonia Cutter responded with skepticism. “I figured our website had some error or the apocalypse had come or something. I took one look at the price tag and said ‘There aren’t enough zeroes on this thing. Are you sure you got this from us?’”
Yet against all odds, Reed’s extraordinarily low total turned out to be true. After he was informed about the news, President Wallace Loh insisted on meeting her. His administration has refused to confirm rumors that a parade will be thrown on the mall in Reed’s honor, complete with a Testudo float and medal.
“We haven’t decided yet how to celebrate this accomplishment, but we’re very proud of Dana,” a spokesman for Loh told The Black Sheep. “She represents everything this university strives to promote–academic responsibility, innovative thinking, and the ability to maintain the illusion that an undergrad education is easily affordable.”
Though it might overwhelm other students, Reed seemed to be taking it all in stride. “I’m just happy I still have some money left in my bank account,” she said. “But still: only eight thousand dollars for textbooks? Who knew it was possible?”