Now that classes are underway it is time for all of us to head to the bookstore where we will stand in long lines in order to shell out massive amounts of money on textbooks. The cost of books is something that many college students struggle with and for good reason. At times, the total for all books needed in one semester can exceed $600, and this is only for required general education classes.
This semester, I consider myself very lucky because I only have to pay a little more than $100 for books, but I find myself asking the question: Why do textbooks cost so much?
The most simple and basic reason I can come up with is the publishers know we have no other choice but to buy the books. This means publishers can make the books as expensive as they want to, and the rate of inflation doesn’t help matters. You can see this happening as you look at how the price of books has grown even more over the last few years. For publishers, college students are a captive market and therefore capitalism can reign.
I have heard arguments that books have to be more expensive because of copyrights for the pictures and diagrams used. I also have heard production costs a lot because colored ink is used.
I will admit, these arguments make sense, but I still can’t help but feel something could be done to lower to cost to the students. Perhaps we could get a little more back from book buyback. Or new editions, which are basically replicas of the prior ones, could be released less often than every other year. Honestly, sometimes I think new editions are released solely to allow publishers to jack up the prices and make prior editions worthless.
Another problem that could help with a solution is that, in many cases, the retail prices of the books are not shown by the publishers to the professors who order the books. Perhaps if prices were given, professors would be able to choose less expensive books.
I know that nowadays many students are able to find cheaper books by ordering from online sources or from buying the book from a classmate. These are good alternatives. However, I also believe a student should be able to go into one of the bookstores on or around campus and find reasonably priced books. And right now, it doesn’t happen, no matter which bookstore you go to.
The long and short of the situation is this: Books cost a lot of money, and when we are already paying so much for tuition, it can be a struggle to come up with the money to buy them. I have seen students try to go without a book in a class because they can’t afford it, and sometimes it doesn’t hurt them, but sometimes it does. This is not fair to the student.
I see the high price of books as a real problem in need of a solution.