With the start of the spring semester recently occuring for most colleges, many students are faced with the dreadful experience of buying or renting textbooks. Whether you order them online or buy them at your campus bookstore, you still find yourself spending hundreds of dollars on textbooks that you doubt you will ever use. The college textbook industry is out of touch with students' needs in five major ways, and it needs to change.
1. Ridiculously high-priced textbooks
$200 here, another $150 there — but wait, there's another $300 over there. By the end of it all, you could have easily spent over $1000 on a bunch of books that your teachers think are vital to your success in college. Think about it this way: You just spent over $1000 (that's about 200 drinks from Starbucks, I might add!) on what is literally a stack of processed pieces of paper. Now remind me, what is it that makes this Calculus book worth $300 again?
2. Access codes that cost $75 plus
But wait, there's more! On top of your $300 book, you need to purchase this $100 access code just to be able to do your homework! You already have a system such as Blackboard or Canvas that your homework assignments can be integrated into, but now you are required to pay another large sum of money just to be able to pass the class (and sometimes they are homework assignments that are only graded on completion).
I personally went an entire semester without purchasing a single book and was still required to spend almost $400 on just access codes to be able to do my homework and pass the class.
3. Textbooks have low resale value
What's that? This chemistry textbook I just paid $280 for only 4 months ago is now only able to be sold back for $40? Oh, over 1600 students took the course and you are only buying back 25 books? Now I'm not a mathematics major, but that just doesn't add up.
Everyone today is so concerned about ensuring that we live more sustainably, but yet so many college students each year can't even give their old books away because the publisher decided to release a new edition and teachers just wont accept the use of the edition that was released just last year anymore.
4. University-specific textbooks
If you were lucky enough to take a class where the professor wrote the book, you are in luck! You now have to pay extra for the book, and you have little to no chance of finding one online that is used or able to rent because it is specific to your college. All because your professor wrote the book and thinks it is better than all the rest.
5. "Required" textbooks that you never use
At the start of the entire process, you have to look at the list of books assigned to you. Most of them say required, while others may be recommended. At this point, you really have two options. You can either get all of the "required" books on the list while they are available or rental prices are low, or you can wait until class is underway to determine for yourself if the book will be used, but at the cost of possibly getting even worse rental prices and being forced to buy the book new.
I personally have found that at least half of the books that are "required" for classes are never even used; and I can almost guarantee that this is a common experience for many other college students. Nothing sucks worse than spending hundreds of dollars on a textbook that you will never use because the professor posts all of the needed information on the lecture slides.
Textbook companies need to get on the same level as the average college student. No one can afford to shell out hundreds of dollars per semester all for textbooks that will only count for that semester. It's time to change the way college students learn by changing the textbooks they are required to purchase every year.