For all the curious students who are wondering what happens behind the scenes of the student council printing business.
Cost of the lecture notes
or "How exactly are you fixing the prices for the lecture notes that you sell?"
The price of the lecture notes we distribute is influenced by a bunch of factors, such as paper prices, maintenance fees, salaries for our printing slaves, depreciation and lease of printers, and many more.
One of the biggest influencing factors is the cost of the printing machines. They have a certain period of amortisation (about 10-20 years), after which they are officially obsolete or broken. This is why we need to put aside some money in order to be able to quickly renew the machines once they become unusable (in economics, the process of value loss over time is called depreciation). The depreciation costs make up around 50% of the total lecture notes costs, together with the printer lease.
Another important factor are the paper prices. We do our best to negotiate favorable prices with out trusted paper supplier, but the cost for the "raw material" still amounts to about 25% of the total costs.
The remaining quarter is almost evenly divided into salaries for the printers, maintenance costs, wearing material and a risk supplement (a security cushion to prevent greater damage in case of miscalculation or overprinting).
If the lecture notes have a glued back, the costs for the spine obviously need to considered as well.
I'll finish up this financial analysis with some good news: Since the lecture notes are subsidised by the faculty, we can afford to sell them at especially affordable prices.
or "God dammit, I need my communication theory lecture notes right now!!!! What the hell are these lazy printer people doing?"
Hold on, that's not true! We - that is, the people responsible for the final editing and the ones who do the actual printing - like our job. But as everywhere in life, problems happen sometimes, be it the request for documents to be printed that goes wrong, a printer that breaks, or just the lack of people around that have the time to deal with the printing process.
Additionally, the institutes sometimes blow the deadline for sending in documents for the print (around 5 to 6 weeks before the lecture period begins). We try to finish printing all lecture notes in time for the new semester of course, even if they have delays of of three weeks or more, but sadly, we are no wizards either.
We have already had the situation that a printer broke down in the middle of the printing period and we had to command new parts in a hurry. Waiting these few days for the parts in order to be able to continue printing was a real hell. Of course such things always happen when time is short (thanks, Murphy).
To sum it up: There are many factors that might influence or worse, delay our printing business. But with time, and cumulated experience, we have worked out strategies to reduce the waiting times to an absolute minimum
Sales time slots
or "Why can't I buy lecture notes right now!!!"
All of us are volunteers, but first and foremost, we, too, are students who go to lectures, do their projects and write exams. Sometimes we even dare to take some days off.
During lecture period, we organise time slots for sales twice a week and even additional evening sales events for the busiest of us engineering students.
For every sales event, we need two student council members to sell lecture notes, which adds up to over a hundred hours worked in just one semester (and just for the sales of the lecture notes that have to be organized and printed beforehand)!
To that effect we cannot, want not and will not propose more sales time slots during lecture periods. On days when you need your lecture notes or old exam collections most, that is, at the beginning and end of every semester, we propose additional sales events where we are open for much longer than just the officially indicated half hour.
Should we run out of lecture notes during the lecture period, we reprint them ASAP. But since especially during the first part of the semester we run out of many lecture notes simultaneouly, ASAP might mean "one day" or even more than that.
During the semester holidays we are closed for more obvious reasons: We want to write and pass our exams as well!
Also, during the breaks there's really not much happening, especially around our council office. On the other hand, every sales event, independent of its duration, needs the same amount of personal investment - from the sales people part, and especially from the part of our treasured treasurer (who is chronically over-worked the whole time already). This is why, if you really need lecture notes during semester holidays, you'd need to have really good reasons to explain why you couldn't have come during any of the 50 sales events (and probably something to appease the treasurer).
For a similar reason, there are times where we cannot sell any lecture notes, especially towards the end of a day or week: once the treasurer has finished the accounting for the day, no new income is accepted.
Reprinting lecture notes during semester breaks is also something we cannot do, as printing just one copy of the lecture notes costs a lot more than printing it batch-wise. Unfortunately, when we're out of lecture notes, we're out of lecture notes until next semester.