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Textpensive: The Rising Cost of Textbooks

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Textpensive: The Rising Cost of Textbooks


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By Gabe Hewitt 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), textbooks prices have gone up 812% in the last 30 years. That increase is larger than the 559% increase in college tuition over the same time period. So why the large increase? The cost of textbooks go hand-in-hand with the cost of tuition. When one goes up, the other goes with it. Publishers can also raise prices by releasing “new” editions of books and bundling them with other products. Both tuition and textbooks go into the issue of the rising cost of education in America.

Students know the pain of waiting in line at the Bookstore to get their books the first week of the semester. Thanks to the statistics mentioned above, they also know about the amount of money they sometimes have to pay for their books. Although some students pay for their books with financial aid, others have to pay out of pocket. In some cases, financial aid can’t pay for all the books and forces students to take out unnecessary loans.

A 2011 US Public Interest Research Group survey determined that 70% of college students don’t purchase a textbook for their class because of high costs. The survey asked 2000 undergraduates at 13 campuses, so take that percentage with a grain of salt. The same survey concluded that textbook costs can equal up to 72% of tuition at a community college.

Rising costs have created a market for online textbooks on websites like Amazon and eBay. Students are often able to buy their books online for considerably less than what their school sells them for. However. students aren’t always able to purchase special codes or CD’s that come with textbooks that give them access to online homework.

The worst part about textbooks may be selling them back to the school. There’s often a “slap in the face” feeling when given a quote for their book during the buyback program at the end of semesters. As mentioned earlier, publishers like to release new editions of their textbooks, decreasing the value of old editions in the process. Most things decrease in value after they’re bought, but getting back $10 for a $100, good condition textbook is ridiculous.

So what has to be done? The cost of new textbooks definitely won’t go down. As more students gain access to computers and tablets, the number of eBooks and online formats has to increase. There will eventually be a day when professors get rid of physical textbooks altogether and switch to electronic formats. Will that be as potential problem for those students who don’t have access to computers? It will be, but that means publishers will have to make more of their books available on a smartphone format.

Another solution to the high cost of physical textbooks may involve not buying them at all. Some colleges allow students to rent out textbooks for a small fee. The MCTC library allows students to rent a textbook, but they can’t take it with them out of the library. If the bookstore had a rental program, students would be able to take their textbook with them and use it for the semester. If they aren’t going to do that, students can opt for renting books from a third-party website.

As for the issues when it comes to the buyback program, students should start selling and buying all their books with each other in person or online. Students not selling their books back to the school most likely make more of a profit and those buying the books can get them at a cheaper price than a used book from the school. Better yet, let your friends borrow your book. Or use it as a paper weight.

Textbooks are ultimately what professors use to teach their course, along with their own personal knowledge, of course. The bottom line is, the price of textbooks is too damn high. This issue boils down into the cauldron of an American education. Should it really cost that much and will it all pay off in the end?

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One Response to “Textpensive: The Rising Cost of Textbooks”

  1. Our most viewed stories of 2014 | City College News on January 9th, 2015 11:57 am

    […] 8. Textspensive: The Rising Cost of Textbooks […]

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Textpensive: The Rising Cost of Textbooks