There are many changes when a student goes from high school to college and one being it is no longer a free education. When one becomes a college student whether it be at a public, private, or community college, all students will be required or assigned textbooks. Textbooks are great tools for learning and are essential for certain classes, but they come at a price, literally. Textbooks have always been expensive but now with only a few textbook publishers, such as Association of American Publishers (AAP), students are limited to the books they are able to buy. AAP has been controlling the textbook world and been raising prices rapidly leaving students to have to become resourceful or spend large sums of money on their books. With the price increase open book programs have been created. The open book programs vary for different universities and colleges, but are all similar in reasonably priced online books.
As a college student I am interested in writing about textbooks and their prices because like many others I have to pay for them myself. My research not only explained to me why books are so expensive but it helped show me other options than the traditional school bookstore text books. I am a freshman and did buy many books from the bookstore, and honestly have used only a handful of what I bought, ultimately wasting my money. I did use Chegg, (a used book website), and did rent a few, but if all the books at my school’s store were as cheap as the used and rented books, I would not have to look for other options, as many of my other classmates. In the end, I wished to be able to find the reason behind textbooks’ unreasonable prices and to see the other options that schools and students have been using to avoid paying full price.
My research includes three different articles all relating to why books are expensive and how to avoid the costs. My three sources were U.S. News, The Hechinger, and U.S. Today. Both U.S. News and U.S. today used the same data from Public Interest Research Group (PIRG). Explaining consequences and results from the increasing prices. Each used the same data but went into different details of how to save money and how students were affected. All three sources addressed an open book system. Each explaining how it was useful and how it is saving students loads of money. The Hechinger though went the most in depth about the open book system, speaking and interviewing someone who uses the system at a local community college. Overall all the aim of the three sources was to explain two things. One, why books have become so expensive. Two, how the open book system has truly been saving many students from a possible long and costly financial burden due to college.
Bidwell, Allie. “Report: High Textbook Prices Have College Students Struggling.” U.S. News. U.S. News & World Report LP., 28 Jan. 2014. Web.
In “Report: High Textbook Prices Have College Students Struggling,” Allie Bidwell talks about rising textbook prices, problems due to textbooks costs, and a solution to help cut the costs of textbooks. The research was conducted by not only herself, but the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Nicole Allen, a spokeswoman for the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, and Ethan Senack, a higher education associate at U.S. PIRG. In Bidwell’s article she reports about the research and findings by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
The research says “the average student spends as much as $1200 each year on textbooks and supplies alone” (Bidwell), the prices equal out to 14 percent of tuition at a four-year public university and 36 percent at a community college. As stated above, the prices for textbooks are high and Senack thinks the reason behind this is because the textbook market lacks competition. The textbooks having little to none competition means publishers are allowed to print new editions every few years. The problem resulting from the price index is students are not willing to buy required books, openly not taking classes due to the books required, and knowingly risking a lower grade. The solution Bidwell provides in her writing is universities converting to open textbooks, open textbooks are online books and or pdfs which are normally free, renting books, and the student being able to find alternative books instead of having one textbook, that is normally overpriced.
Colarusso, Laura M. “Programs Seek to Lower Cost of College Textbooks – The Hechinger Report.” The Hechinger Report. Teachers College at Columbia University, 27 Aug. 2014. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.
The article by, Laura M. Colarusso, “Programs Seek to Lower Cost of College Textbooks – The Hechinger Report” provides an example of someone who uses open-source textbooks and provides ways to help save money on college textbooks. Colarusso gives insight of Sandra Kerley, a third-year business administration student, who uses an open-source textbook program. This program allows Kerley to receive her books for free allowing her to use her money elsewhere such as her electricity bill, groceries, and supplies for other classes. In the article they estimate books prices, though the have risen rapidly from 2002 to 2012, 82 percent to be exact, are estimated to be lowering. Reasons being “First, more and more are renting their course materials instead of buying them, which can save hundreds of dollars throughout the course of an education” (Colarusso). The five ways Colarusso says to save money on textbooks are comparison shopping (looking at online and hardcover books), shopping early, check to see if the books are in the library, buying the correct book, and lending/sharing books with friends.
Weisbaum, Herb. “College Textbook Costs More Outrageous than Ever.” TODAY.com. NBC News Contributor, 28 Jan. 2014. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.
In “College Textbooks Costs More Outrageous Than Ever” by Herb Weisbaum facts and data are presented from the PIRG (as seen in Bidwell’s), he also presents facts about open textbooks (also talked about in Bidwell’s and Colarusso’s), and arguments against textbook prices rising. Weisbaum cites the same data as Bidwell. Stating students willingly do not buy books, the average cost for textbooks is around $1200, and books costs influence their class choices. The reason for the high prices are expensive according to PIRG is “publishers use “a set of tactics to drive prices skyward,” such as releasing new editions every three to four years regardless of changes in the subject material” (Colarusso). With this tactic it makes it almost impossible to buy affordable books. Though PIRG seems to have reasonable data, the publishing industry says it is incorrect. David Anderson, an executive director for higher education at the AAP, states PIRG is distorted and biased. AAP defends themselves with saying they have digital textbooks, but not open textbooks. Once again the open textbook system is brought up as one of the best solutions to overly priced textbooks. Compared to a hardcopy and expensive textbook, open textbooks seem to be the only logical solution. “These books are written by faculty and peer-reviewed, just like traditional books, but they’re free online and free to download. They’re typically available in print for between $20 and $40” (Colarusso). Though AAP believes people can find easy and reasonable ways to afford their textbooks, the article still promotes open textbooks and sides with textbooks being unreasonably priced.