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Textbook Prices Are on The Rise

By Brianna Leverette

Each year, textbooks become more and more expensive. Based on a survey released in 2011 by the Student Public Interest Research Group, “textbook prices increased 22 percent over the last four years.”  This prevents students from buying many textbooks to save funds, which could compromise learning. The Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) bookstore is not an exception to this textbook statistic.

I believe that the cost of textbooks is outrageous. It is difficult for me to buy new textbooks each semester because, at times, they can be almost as expensive as my tuition. I believe that the materials for the class should be included in the price of tuition. Students should not have to be spending so much money on a book that they will most likely never open after the semester is over. It pains me to purchase a textbook for over $200, knowing that it will gather dust on my shelf after the next few months come to an end.

John Alvarado, a fellow EMCC student, stated, “I do not like the prices of books at EMCC. My dad has me buy all the books there, so I always end up paying a lot.” According to the College Board, textbooks and supplies are now averaging $1,100 per year. This price tag is in addition to tuition, room, and board.

Another issue contributing to the book expenses is the new editions constantly coming out for the same textbook. The Government Accountability Office report said, “New editions with minimal alterations are coming out at a faster rate compared to cycles 10 to 20 years ago.”

I believe that this is one of the most frustrating aspects of buying high-priced textbooks. There are many classes that require the newest edition textbook, but often the prior edition has the same sufficient information and is less than half the price.

The only deterring factor when buying an edition older than the newest one is the fact that there is almost no return on selling it. Students feel obligated to buy the newest edition because it is what they are told to do, which keeps them from buying my one-year-old textbook.

Many students are unaware or have a lack of concern for the expensive textbooks. However, if more students were educated on how much money they could be saving by doing research, then perhaps college bookstores and the textbooks publishers would adjust their pricing to be more reasonable.

The Government Accountability office stated, “The price of U.S. textbooks is often much greater than the same book sold in international markets.” Once a student does the textbook research to find the best deal on a book, it will become obvious that international prices are much better than prices in the United States. I have resorted to and, both of which are websites that offer cheaper book prices.

Renting textbooks and buying used textbooks can also be expensive. When I rent a book, it is substantially cheaper than a brand new book, but in the end the price becomes almost the same. The prices are so similar because once the semester is over, I want to sell my books back, and the amount they pay me for my textbook is almost the exact same as the price I would have paid to rent a textbook in the beginning of the semester.

It would be helpful to provide education for students to understand the textbook price scams. Another solution might be to create a website or advertisements that compare prices between the school bookstore and cheaper competitors online because it could force companies to lower their prices.