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.