The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Opinion-Pricey textbooks annoy students

Tuition for four classes: $700. Used textbooks for four classes: $520. Not dying of heart failure while writing the check at the campus bookstore: priceless.

Textbook prices have increased at four times the rate of inflation since 1994, according to a report by the Student Public Interest Research Groups.

Today’s overpriced books are usually wrapped in bundles with extra CD-ROMs and unneeded workbooks. If a student is lucky enough to find a used copy, the price is higher than a new book cost just a few years ago.

End-of-semester book buybacks help, but paying $85 for a used book and only making $12 at the buyback is annoying. Some students, instead of sitting around comparing checkout counter nightmare stories, are fighting back.

MakeTextbooksAffordable.com, a campaign of student PIRGs and government associations in 14 states, is working to make a difference. The group was started by students from the University of California-Irvine, and is now running on 50 college campuses across the country.

During the past few years, the group has discovered that textbook publishers produce unnecessary new editions, which drive cheaper, used books off the market. The group also discovered the prices of textbooks from one edition to the next is jacked up at twice the rate of inflation.

The Association of American Publishers argues the new editions are because instructors want the latest information and most up-to-date materials.

Yes, up-to-date is good, especially for technical, health and current event-related subjects. But what about subjects such as calculus and introductory physics, which have not changed in years?

A case study on MakeTextbooksAffordable.com revealed Thomson Learning’s Calculus: Early Transcendentals, Edition 5 contained no significant changes between the fourth and fifth editions. Yet a new copy of the book sells for $130 while a used copy of the fourth edition sells for between $20 and $90.

A recent e-mail from the Association of American Publishers claims the average price of a new textbook is $52.36. What year were they shopping in?

Many used books today cost $80. If a student is required to purchase a bundle the price can be close to $200. Also, it is harder to sell back bundles because the bookstore will not buy back a bundle that has been opened.
An investigation by the U.S. Department of Education is looking into the problem. Their recommendations will be ready this spring. In late September, hearings will be held in Washington, D.C., and in other areas throughout the year.

So what can students and faculty do to help? Log on to MakeTextbooksAffordable.com and download legislation proposals for state representatives. The site also has ideas such as an organizer toolkit to help campuses launch their own campaigns.

Andy Warhol’s philosophy explains the difference between whining versus action.

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”

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