Rising Textbook Prices Dwindling Bank Accounts


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.

Annotated Bibliography

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.


Zombies, Vampires, and Technology Oh My

Chuck Klosterman was at Lenoir Rhyne November 12th in P.E. Monroe for the visiting writer’s series and November 13th for a question and answer session. I was unable to attend both events. Though I did not attend either events, I did have the opportunity to read an article he wrote and visit his website. The article by Chuck Klosterman, My Zombie, Myself: Why Modern Life Feels Rather Undead is about zombies, vampires, and how both monsters tie into technology. The article also talks about how zombies are no longer as popular as they use to be and how the new vampire fad has taken over the undead.

Though the article is supposed to tie our fears of monsters into how, with the new age of technology, we have become zombie like, I personally had troubles seeing the ties. I am able to understand when Klosterman compares us and our technology uses to zombies “In other words, zombie killing is philosophically similar to reading and deleting 400 work e-mails on a Monday or filling out paperwork that only generates more paperwork” (Klosterman). I see our usage of technology being a mindless and zombie like aspect but I do not understand why Klosterman spoke about vampires. In the article he talks and goes into depth about vampires taking over the zombie world, and I just personally don’t see how the vampires have any ties into our technology usage. Even when I re-read the article in class with classmates I still struggled with Klosterman’s reasoning to talk about vampires.

The Short and Quick Summary of Robert Peace

In P.E. Monroe Auditorium on Thursday, October 22, 2015, Jeff Hobbs, the author of “The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace”, came and spoke about Robert Peace. While Hobbs spoke about Peace, he shared personal experiences he and others had with Peace, prior to his untimely death. Hobbs also spoke about his involvement with Peace’s mother, Jackie, and their journey together while creating his biography. At the end Hobbs speech, the audience had the opportunity to ask questions. Once the questions had been concluded, Hobbs asked the audience to participate in a group game. A question would be asked and if one could relate, you would stand, if not you would stay seated. While listening to Hobbs speak, one is able to tell there was a genuine concern for making Robert Peace be remembered in his entirety.

Through my own reading of “The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace”, an online interview, and Hobbs visit to our school, I was able to see why Hobbs wished Robert Peace to not be seen as a cliché. Hobbs was able to explain Peace to us listeners as if we had known him, making his speech feel more relatable to us. This was my second visiting writer’s series I have attended. My first one was about Jakie Shelton Green, a poet. Hobbs compared to Green’s visit, I thought, was easier to comprehend. One reason being, I had read the work Hobbs was speaking about, while Green’s I had only read one piece of work, but she spoke about multiple others. Though I was able to relate more to Hobbs, Green’s visit kept me more engaged because I wanted to understand her work. In addition to wanting to understand her work Green was more relaxed and outgoing during the speech, helping to keep my attention. While Hobbs throughout the speech seemed somewhat timid/not as outgoing, but I have assumed that to be his personality.

Roommates, a Blessing in Disguise or an Unnecessary Stress?

Anna Altman’s New York Times blog post “College Education Should Include Rooming with a Stranger” presents different researchers studies and findings about having randomly assigned roommates. The blog post emphasizes many points such as, why universities choose to have randomly assigned roommates, why universities allow students to choose their own roommate, and how improving technology has helped with room assignments. The start of college is a new chapter for many students just graduating high school and wishing to further their education, but with this new chapter comes many new experiences and many firsts. One of the biggest changes with starting college, which is shown in the blog post, is having to room with somebody, who may or may not be a complete stranger to you.

For years going to college meant having a randomly assigned roommate, making it all part of the “college experience”, but randomly assigned roommates are beginning to occur less and less because of the changing times and technology. Improving technology has allowed universities to create websites much like dating/matchmaker profiles, “colleges are hiring companies like RoomSync, a Facebook app that helps you match with like-minded users, to match students with appropriate roommates”(Altman). These types of apps allow students to pick and choose roommates they believe with whom they will be compatible. Now that advancing technology is aiding students with roommates, making them happier and relieving stress, wouldn’t one believe all colleges would set up these matchmaker websites to improve their students well being?

Throughout the article, the research Altman cites, emphasizes how roommates greatly impact your life “Who you live with can change your studying habits, influence how much alcohol you drink and encourage (or prevent) weight gain and mood disorders.” (Altman). One point the article makes about randomly assigned roommates is randomly assigned roommates breaks students out of their comfort zone and allows them to make new experiences. A randomly assigned roommate can allow students to create connections with others who they may have not been able to/may have been uncomfortable with contacting. Opposing the statement “randomly assigned roommates breaks you out of your comfort zone” is a roommate can cause the student to stress. The stress may come from lack of common interest between themselves and the roommate, possibly different schedules, or overall incompatibility. The cons following stress related to a randomly assigned roommate is the student may ask to change roommates, which is costly and time consuming, or they may even wish to transfer at the end of the year. These two cons are an annoyance colleges wish to not deal with.

Here, at Lenoir-Rhyne University, the university allowed students to contact each other through a Facebook page, where the students utilized their resources and posted biographies of themselves so they were able to reach out to others who they believe they would enjoy rooming with. The main purpose of the Facebook page initially was for all the freshman to be able to see all the other new students but then the students repurposed it into a roommate page. The incoming freshman began posting about who they were, their interests and dislikes, their ideal roommates, their personal habits, and many other things which someone looking for a roommate would like to know. Though I had the option to contact other students on Facebook I was able to choose someone with a main interest as myself, lacrosse. My situation while choosing a roommate was different than many others, because my roommate and I were both going to be on the lacrosse team at Lenoir-Rhyne. Since I am on a sports team my roommate and I were able to contact each other much easier since we had a coach’s help. I may have been lucky with choosing a roommate because of my circumstances, but if I would not have been able to choose my own roommate I would have been worried our schedules would conflict with each other. I have early mornings four times a week causing me to have early nights four times a week, being a difficult schedule to deal with. While in college having a different schedule is huge con, but if you are able to choose a roommate with the same or similar schedule it relieves that pressure. A similar schedule may not be every new freshman’s worries but it was something I and new students much like myself care about.

In addition to schedules there are many other things students worry about, such as if they are even compatible with their new roommate and if their experience with their roommate will be an enjoyable one. If you are not compatible with your roommate it can cause much more stress, anxiety, and dislike towards college and the school in which they are attending. The article had a tendency to emphasize how random roommates made connections for you and how it is the best or only way to make a connection, which I find to be a false statement. Causing the articles statement “We go to college not only for a degree but for the social connections (randomly assigned roommates)” (Altman), to be invalid in my opinion, because no matter who you room with you will always make a social connection one way or another. Even if one is not assigned a random roommate, their new roommate still and is most likely a random. The differences between a randomly assigned roommate and roommates who choose each other are slim. The biggest distinguishing factor is the student was able to pick someone who they can see themselves living with. Unless you are going to college rooming with your best friend, sibling, or someone you previously lived with, you are moving in with a complete stranger leading to new experiences and connections. Both randomly assigned or picked roommate will be learning how to live with others and will have awkward encounters between each other.

Though we had a different circumstance I still was able to pick and choose my roommate, unlike at some schools, who prefer their students to obtain the “full college experience” of having a random roommate. I do not recall the “full college experience” to be awkward encounters with a randomly assigned person. Instead with our new technology and colleges wanting students to feel more comfortable, it is now an awkward encounter with a person you have chosen to live with. The new age of social media gives new students the ability to contact their roommates and become somewhat familiar with their so called “personal life”. With all of our abilities to contact each other and social media, it seems mad for one to go into college without the choice of picking a roommate.

Altman, Anna. “A College Education Should Include Rooming With a Stranger.” OpTalk A College Education Should Include Rooming With a Stranger Comments. The New York Times, 07 Sept. 2014. Web. 29 Sept. 2015.

An Evening With Jaki Shelton Green

Jaki Shelton Green came to Lenoir Ryhne University, September 10, 2015 to speak to us about her writings, for our universities Visiting Writers series. Green went into depth about her personal life and experiences, sharing her stories and inspirations to the audience. Each one of her stories varied from her childhood, to stories about her grandmother, a strong influence in her writing career, to writings about a nameless person who was murdered.

From all of the stories Green shared, the one I found the most interesting was her story about a group of women at a state prison. Green taught a writing lab once a week for a year to a group of women who were on death row. While teaching this class, Green only allowed the women to write about hands, whether it be their own, someone else’s hands, or a situation involving hands. Green’s reasoning for what some may consider an absurd task is that these women’s hands are the reason why they are in prison on death row. While teaching this class, Green wrote along with the women and created “i know the grandmother one had hands”, a poem where Green spoke about a grandmother and all the things this grandmother has done with her hands. Though I am unsure if it is about her own grandmother, we learned that Green’s inspiration for this poem was the women which she was teaching and working with makes my prior knowledge to her poem change. In class on September 9, 2105 our class analyzed this poem, going into depth about the poem. The class came to a consensus that it was a generalization for all grandmothers because of her lack of capitalization of  “I” throughout the poem.

While I may not know Green’s true intentions of why she wrote “i know the grandmother one had hands”  or any of her poems and writings, getting to hear her stories makes me feel as if I am able to connect more to the writings which we have read by her. Attending Green’s reading was a pleasant experience in which I have never had the opportunity to enjoy. It was interesting to learn so much about someone and her reasons for why they have created their pieces of work.