10/26/2011 6:04 PM ET|
Should textbooks really cost $200?
That leads to a big frustration for used-book buyers: page numbers and test questions can change, which can cause confusion if the professor makes assignments using only the newest version. (If the professor happened to write the textbook and requires the newest edition, he or she is likely to earn a lot of students' resentment.)
Another frustration: professors who don't post their syllabuses until the last minute, forcing their students to scramble to find used and rentable copies. Sometimes, these copies take several days to arrive, meaning the students start the semester already behind on their work.
The gradual shift toward digital or e-textbooks that's already under way could help bring costs down by eliminating printing costs -- although publishers will still face the remaining, typically more expensive upfront costs of having to pay writers, editors, designers, artists, the marketing staff and so on.
Of course, there are downsides to digital textbooks as well. They're often sold with an access code that expires or that can't be transferred or sold. If e-books did replace traditional books, the used-book market could shrink dramatically, and students might be back in the situation I faced in college, with few options beyond those allowed by big publishers.
Then again, one of the things slowing the adoption of e-textbooks is the students themselves, who prefer printed material, the Student PIRGs' Allen said.
"It's what they grew up with," Allen said. "It's what they're used to."
Still, the Student PIRGs champion the free open-source textbook, like those provided by one of the Textbook Rebellion's sponsors, Flat World Knowledge. Flat World provides students with free online textbooks that professors can readily modify to fit their courses. Flat World Knowledge makes its money by providing study aids and alternate forms of the books (print, audio and .pdf files, for example).
But the company has only a few dozen titles, compared with the 350,000 textbook titles currently in print that are available from traditional publishers, said Bruce Hildebrand, the executive director for higher education at the Association of American Publishers.
So again: There are no easy solutions. But a hat tip to the Student PIRGs and the Textbook Rebellion for keeping attention on this issue. Open-source materials won't be the solution for every course, but professors and universities need to be reminded that they -- and not just their students -- should be looking for alternatives to the $200 textbook.
Liz Weston is the Web's most-read personal-finance writer. She is the author of several books, most recently "The 10 Commandments of Money: Survive and Thrive in the New Economy" (find it on Bing). Weston's award-winning columns appear every Monday and Thursday, exclusively on MSN Money. Join the conversation and send in your financial questions on Liz Weston's Facebook fan page.
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How much are the college book stores making off the books. Its not just the publishers. The college itself is in bed with them. It costs you 100 dollars for a book that the instructor swears up and down you will need and by the time the class is over you have never even needed to open that book. Then they "generously" offer to buy back the book from you maybe giving you 10 dollars for it at the end of semester. The next semester students have the option of buying that book used for a reduced price of 80 dollars. Tell me that isnt taking advantage of a group of people that are already struggling for money. While they are raping you for book costs, the cost of tuition steadily goes up while classes offered goes down and the level of teaching in those classes goes down. I had several classes that were expensive yet all you did was show up and a teachers aid pushed play on a vcr and that was the days lesson, excuse me but i could do that at home without paying your huge salary or that of the dean who makes more per year than the president of the united states. Then there are all the other school policies like freshmen must live in the dorm or student apartment. I lived in a student apartment, i was paying the same amount per month that I would have if i had rented off campus, there were 3 other people paying the same amount living in my apartment. If I were allowed by school rules to live off campus I would have at least had a bedroom and bathroom to myself. There are many classes that require you to purchase other specialized items, I had a drafting class that was all done on computers that required me to purchase a board and squares and drafting pencils all that were never used or mentioned by the instructor during the semester. They continue to tell you that you need to have an education to make more money and have a better job in this country. Unfortunately thats all bull unless you want to be a doctor or a lawyer. Even being an engineer or draftsman or certified skilled laboror costs you more to go to school than its worth. There are people with multiple degrees looking for work out there and the only places hiring pay them the same as if they were high school dropouts. No point in wasting your time in college and paying thousands of dollars for an education when your just going to end up working at wal mart.
Here is what needs to be done, start a book store across the street from the college. Dont gouge students for the books be as fair as you can. You wont need to jack your prices up because every single student will shop at your store. Or maybe we just need the Chinese to print copies at a fraction of the cost ignoring copy rights like they do with every thing else.
If that's not cheating us, I don't know what is.
College books were/are too expensive. I paid for my own college, so when my parents asked what I wanted for my birthday (which thankfully was the end of August, same time as classes were starting) and what I wanted for Christmas, I only asked that they help me buy my books. They did, and this was such a great relief. I mean seriously, $500+ for ONE semester in books after thousands in room/board/meal plans??? Too much... Especially when you don't get even half back for your books when you sell back. There really is no reason for these books to be this expensive!
You know, this semester has been my most expensive as far as books, at first I tried getting all my books in actual book style new and used that would have cost me $950, then I got the idea of buying two books from the bookstore and getting the other two online (digital versions, bad idea by the way) I still ended up paying over $780 for books.
I think the MOB has stopped with laundering money and drugs and went to selling college textbooks
When I was in college getting my Bachelors Degree (Chemical Engineering) and then my Masters Degree (Civil/Environmental Engineering) back in the 90's I spent a lot of money on books for my core courses. I also spent a lot of money on books for my electives too. The engineering books were always the most expensive and I never sold them back. Most of the elective books I did sell back unless they were for something like law or other good technical courses I took.
It's funny. When I was in college I thought I was getting robbed blind paying 100s of dollars for my books. That was, until I got my first job. All those engineering books have always been on the shelves of my office whereever I have worked. They get referenced often. There are thousands of dollars of them. But they have enabled me to make enough money to pay for them over and over again and like I said are still useful today.
Sometimes investments are good things to make. And sometimes you don't realize how good an investment is at the time.
This yet another example of uncontrolled "capitalism" working its finest.
Big publishers charge unregulated prices for the cost of books. Teachers pick the books (and I wouldn't be surprised if the publishers return the favor to teachers, much like pharmaceaticals (sp) return favors to the doctors who write their prescriptions.
What I love is the excuse every few years for a "new edition" that forces you to buy a NEW book. So many times in college, when the "new" edition was the only one in stock, you could find someone with the older edition. Funny part is that the number of edits from the older to the newest edition are probably fewer than 10.
Yet, the price of the book has increased 50% over the cost of the previous version when it was new. So that $200 Chemistry book Edition FOUR has 5 minor edits (read: fixed typos or other grammar issues) and replaced the $150 THIRD edition of the exact same book.
And they think College students will believe that it cost $50 more to print the newest book. Is that BEFORE or AFTER they have earned their degrees?
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