The inflating price of textbooks has been one of the college students’ woes, the publishers’ El Dorado and the reason why college professors go Pontius Pilate. Intensive analyzation of the entire system has been made and thoughtful suggestions are offered.
Talk about the cost of going to college and more than often you will hear about the textbooks’ inflated price. But what more alarming than that is how the students seem to ignore the very steep rock face of the textbooks’ price that’s nearly impossible to climb; students feel so helpless to correct the entire system. The act of apparent unconcern gives the textbook companies a strategic position in the market. This has been taking place for years. Publishers have managed the academia somehow unaware of the textbook prices thus turning themselves an invincible force in the textbook market while turning the students vulnerable.
Students somehow are seizing the power back thru the emergence of new options available to them – online book sellers, book rentals, e-books, open source. These solutions are not one-size-fits-all to this ever-changing problem but with the enactment of reforms by the government, students can save a hundred or two. And in college this is a significant amount.
How Much Are We Talking About Here?
Major textbook publishers bleed college students dry by rising the textbook prices by twofold since mid 80′s.
Average cost of a single textbook is as worth as a person’s monthly budget for his groceries.
An annual cost of textbooks is enough for someone to buy a Mac Air or to pretty cover 75% of tuition costs at a two-year public school.
Textbook Market Analyzed
In a typical market, merchants, i.e. the publishers, compete with one another to sell the most products while the consumers, in this case the students, are free to choose what they want to buy based on quality and price. Unfortunately, this is not what happens in the current textbook market.
In present-day textbook market, professors indicate the recommended textbook for the course, while the publisher seems like charging whatever they want. This regrettable set-up renders the student both powerless and helpless.
Who’s to Blame?
Nobody is pointing the guilty finger at college professors. They select textbooks which they deem ideal for their course though most of them admit that they are not made aware, or at least informed, by the publishers about the textbook prices. Professors disclose that should they know about the price of the textbooks they require students to secure, they would rather switch to a cheaper textbook of same content.
As for the students, there are quite a lot of ways to win the game by not playing the normal rules, in a way publishers do not want you to. Each one is not picture-perfect; students can mix-and-match these solutions to suit their needs.
Up to half of the price of its new counterpart
Just up to a quarter of textbooks out in the market are used
Tend to sell out quickly
Up to 40% cheaper than you buy in regular bookstores
Because of that, once in a while, they run out of stock of the books you need
61% more affordable than buying textbooks
Almost all students said they would rent if they got a chance to
A new fad in the textbook market structure; not yet widely available on most campuses
Up to 52% cheaper than physical textbooks
Have no buyback value, more than often, expire after a semester
Only half of the students admit they’re comfortable using them
The average amount per book is $30
Students can choose between digital or print format
Not yet widely accessible
Congress Shake-up on Textbook Shakedown
Congress can no longer turn a blind eye. The Higher Education Opportunities Act (HEOA) effective July 1, 2010, contains provisions on textbooks and textbook costs that need to be complied:
Publishers will made textbook information (ISBN, cost) readily available for faculty and to share the data with campus bookstore
Universities and colleges must publish information on required textbook in course schedules or registrations.
Publishers must break down the textbook bundles and supplemental materials.
Things are about to change. With new technology, new market players and with legislative intervention, students now are starting to have their power back over the textbook problem.
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