The Scam With Textbook Prices

“Here go all of my summer savings,” I thought as I swiped my credit card to pay for my required textbooks. According to a recent USA Today study, textbook prices have increased more than 82 percent in the past decade.

What seems to drive up the cost of textbooks nowadays is typically supplemental instructional materials, such as online access codes or practice quizzes. Students in the generations before us had to rely simply on their professor’s notes and the printed text for learning a subject.

How necessary are these supplemental items in the sense that they truly aid the students’ studies? Online practice quizzes may be helpful, they are not an absolute necessity. Study guides can temporarily serve as a revision tool, but they can’t replace the note taking process that is essential for any student to master. 

While the availability of such supplements may be helpful, it should not be mandatory for students to buy along with the textbooks. They unnecessarily increase the overall price and force students to spend extra money.

Another manner in which the publishers victimize students is by releasing new editions of textbooks every year. They justify doing so by stating that they are including new material that has been researched in the previous years in which keeps the students updated with the latest information.

As a student myself, I cannot help but think of the inconvenience of such a system. If I was to buy an older edition of a textbook rather than the latest one with a (more) glamorous cover, what groundbreaking research could the new textbook possibly include that would be absolutely necessary for say, an intro class?

The newer book may only contain a few more images and perhaps even increase the length of some of the chapters, other than that, the basic information will be the exact same. Also price of the newer edition will at least be $50 to $100 higher than the older edition. As a student, I personally do not see why buying the newer edition may be all that beneficial, solely for the sake of a few new pictures. 

The Huffington Post reports that college textbook prices have increased at a faster rate than tuition, inflation and healthcare costs in recent years. Due to this, many students are now opting to buy online editions of textbooks, affectionately called eBooks which are cheaper and only include the actual text, without all the unnecessary supplements.

Instead of asking students to buy the very latest and updated editions of textbooks, college administrators should carefully compare the information in the older and newer editions . Professors should ask students to buy the edition that will best help them learn instead of the one that will make them spend the most. They should also contact publishing companies and ask them to allow the students to buy textbooks without the supplements.

Hopefully, college administrators and students can persuade publishing companies to lower textbook prices.