Got Used Bookstore manager Ben Lambert opened a package last November expecting to see the shipment of 1,000 blue exam books he'd ordered.
But the books he found inside were a distinct shade of light green, sporting the words "100% Recycled Paper" across their covers.
Although Lambert was surprised by the mistake at first, he decided to run with the idea.
"I had this product I needed to sell, and they're literally the same thing," Lambert said. "And we do have a lot of environmentally conscious people at Penn State."
The time-honored blue exam book, beloved by professors and bemoaned by students, is literally going green. The aptly named Green Book, manufactured by Roaring Spring Paper Products since last year, is the same size as its blue counterpart but made with 100 percent recycled paper and 30 percent post-consumer waste.
Got Used Bookstore, 206 E. College Ave., has sold about 500 Green Books since late November, Lambert said, and offers it for 22 cents each -- three cents less than its blue counterpart.
"Because Blue Books are the established form of test-taking at Penn State, you kind of have to incentivize people if they're going to change," Lambert said.
Eco-Action President Brittany Harris (senior-biological anthropology) said only recycled-paper exam books should be offered to students.
"Call them whatever you like. There's really no reason why they couldn't be all recycled paper," she said.
Despite the lower cost of Green Books at Got Used Bookstore, Roaring Spring General Manager Jim Lucey said the company sells the green exam books for about 10 percent more than the blue exam books. He added that recycled paper costs about 20 percent more than regular paper.
Got Used Bookstore is currently the only State College bookstore that offers the Green Book. The Penn State Bookstore is "looking into" carrying Green Books, Penn State Bookstore employee Amy Horst said.
Roaring Spring produces "millions" of exam books, Lucey said, and about 10 percent are made of recycled paper.
"We started producing them in response to the demand that we saw from the collegiate community to get into more sustainable and recyclable products," Lucey said.
"Overall, the entire offering of expanded recycled products has been extremely well received in the college bookstore community."
Some students and professors have responded positively to the environmentally friendly books.
"Most professors supply Blue Books from the department," Penn State philosophy professor William Behun said, adding he hadn't heard about the new Green Books but would "absolutely" consider using them.
"I would like the option at least -- the departments should supply more environmentally friendly products," he said.
However, Josh Salvi (junior-bioengineering) said while he thinks the Green Book is a good idea, he is "a little iffy" about using one for exams this semester.
"I mean, we use the blue books, so the green one might be a little intimidating at first," he said.
Lambert said he has met Penn State alumni from "as far back as the 1970s" who remember using exam books when they were students.
"The blue books obviously sell better," he said. "They've been a staple at Penn State for a very long time."