In class the other day my professor told us something interesting he learned from his close friend at a publishing company.
He asked his friend, “Exactly how much does it truly cost to make, print, and ship textbooks for college students?” Now, judging by how much textbooks end up costing students every semester, you would think that the answer would be a high number. His friend replied: “It costs about four dollars per book.”
No, I did not make a typo. It only takes around four dollars to actually produce the $200 textbook you bought for your one of your spring classes this year. I think this is insanity. There is no reason that our textbooks are so expensive other than profit for the textbook/publishing companies.
Students already deal with enough expenses as college tuition rises across the nation. There is no reason the classes we take should require such expensive books to go along with them when we are already paying thousands to simply just be in the class. It’s frustrating that about half of the time it seems as though the textbook for a class goes fairly unused throughout the semester.
A large reason why textbooks become so expensive,according to the CEO of campusbooks.com, is because publishers release new editions every year. Doing this ends up rendering used-books almost obsolete, and requiring the purchase of a more expensive, newer textbook. Another thing I’ve noticed is that sometimes professors require you to buy the book that they wrote, making it difficult to buy the book elsewhere for less money.
What is unfortunate is the limits that textbook prices put on students and their grades. Many times, students may choose to for-go the expensive textbook or materials required by their professor simply because it was too expensive.
This, in turn, will affect the student’s grade and accessibility to class work or discussions. No student should have to face a struggle such as this one when they are already paying so much money to attend school and take classes.
I personally think that the price of classes should include the price of the required textbooks, and that the books should be sold for reasonable prices. Or, another solution, make very cheap online copies. Whoever chooses to have the more expensive printed copy may do so, but it may be economical for some to choose the online version that costs the company less and, therefore, the student less as well. Technology is a large part of education today, anyway.
For now, it seems as though renting is the best way around the skyrocketing prices of books. I’m almost positive that all campus bookstores offer rental as an option, with the book being due as soon as finals week comes to an end. The website I’ve found to be helpful for rentals as well is textsurf.com, where you type in the ISBN number of your book and it finds the lowest price for it online by comparing various different book-rental websites.