Textbooks are too expensive, said every college student ever

Nate Han­ni­nen — The Stinger

Think­ing of col­lege, cer­tain items come to mind. Nec­es­sary items like note­books, pens and pen­cils, and most impor­tantly: text­books. Stu­dents are now at a point where the ris­ing cost of books prices are becom­ing a com­pet­i­tive mar­ket for both edu­ca­tional insti­tu­tions who use those texts and the stu­dents who are pur­chas­ing them.

Stu­dents are now fac­ing a major hard­ship when it comes to afford­ing the cost of these texts and are look­ing for alter­na­tives to save money and stay afloat at the col­le­giate level. Cur­rently stu­dents are seek­ing other sys­tems of book pur­chas­ing out­side of the inter­nal stores in order to save this money, but the cost of cut­ting cost goes on to affect the school stores themselves.

Vaughn Rus­som, the direc­tor of the UWS book­store point out that any money made from the sale of books goes back into the book­store itself.

We’re not in the busi­ness to make money. We’re in the busi­ness to break even”.

How­ever he is find­ing him­self hav­ing to com­pete with the major retail­ers like half.com or Amazon.com and com­pete with their prices. Rus­som is now look­ing to other ser­vices to help with that com­pet­i­tive busi­ness model.

I need to do what­ever I can in order to meet that price,” said Russom.

Another major side of the book price issue is the edu­ca­tors and the way they use these books in their classes and how the prices can have an effect their class.

Dr. Martha Ein­er­son is a pro­fes­sor here at UWS and also the chair of the Com­mu­ni­cat­ing Arts depart­ment and shared some key insights to how the ris­ing cost of books can weigh on students.

The respon­si­bil­ity lies with us.” She spoke of a need for fac­ulty to cre­ate their own cur­ricu­lum and shy away from the cor­po­rate model that is being pre­sented to edu­ca­tors through and process known as “packaging.”

Pack­ag­ing is a way for book­sellers to add into the sale of book mate­ri­als that will help in the oper­a­tion of day to day classes such as Pow­er­Point pre­sen­ta­tions and pre­made exams. The goal is for teach­ers with a large course load and many stu­dents to get these pre­made book pack­ages and not have to worry about spend­ing time cre­at­ing a les­son plan, which depend­ing on the sub­ject and be a lot of hours.

Ein­er­son also explained a process that book­sellers use in order to keep their prices high. That is the alter­ation and pub­li­ca­tion of new edi­tions of books. The cre­ation of a new edi­tion essen­tially stops the pro­duc­tion of the older ver­sions to make way for the new “updated” ver­sions. How­ever, in some cases the revi­sions may be min­i­mal and not enough to impact those edu­ca­tors still using older edi­tions of the same book.

A lot of those depart­ments have to switch edi­tions. Every time they come out with a new one, they have to use that one” Said Mar­shall Hansberry.

Dr. Ein­er­son has sought out book­sellers with a stated mis­sion of reduc­ing book prices in order to avoid the cor­po­rate model of book pric­ing that exists.  She also believes that buy­ing into a cor­po­rate model hurts the teach­ing process and espe­cially newer teach­ers try­ing to find their own style.

We end up not putting our own twist on the mate­r­ial,” said Dr. Einerson.

The idea can be very attrac­tive to teach­ers, espe­cially here at UWS because the large amount of the sec­tions being taught; rang­ing between 4–5 sec­tions of a course per teacher.

She encour­ages teach­ers and stu­dents to find alter­na­tive ways of gain access to mate­r­ial but also find a way to be cre­ative with what is given. Teach­ers can alter their cur­ricu­lum to bring in books that are low cost, or have the abil­ity to have them put on reserve for stu­dents to gain access while they find the best prices avail­able to them.

Ein­er­son also believes in using lec­ture or addi­tional class­work to pro­vide stu­dents with a strong the­o­ret­i­cal back­ground to give them the abil­ity to be suc­cess­ful in the classroom.

I think it makes my classes stronger, more rel­e­vant, more con­tem­po­rary and timely instead of rely­ing on text­books that may have a good rep­u­ta­tion or have been used traditionally.”

On the stu­dents side there are ways to gain access to books such as shar­ing with a fel­low stu­dent or find­ing some­one to share a book with uti­liz­ing ser­vices like the UWS book share Face­book page or check­ing any of the bul­letin boards around cam­pus for low cost books for sale.

I’ve seen stu­dents embar­rassed or shy to admit they don’t have the text­book” Said Einerson.

With the new mod­els being imple­mented the cost of books may be com­ing down and the sav­ings resulted may let stu­dents and the staff here at UWS have lit­tle bit more to help make the learn­ing process easier.

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