September 01, 2009

The Nation’s Third Oldest College Newspaper

Volume 80, Issue 1

The steep price of textbooks

With the high price of textbooks students have been coming up with new ideas on how to save money

With the high price of textbooks students have been coming up with new ideas on how to save money

Despite the economy, experts and officials are not expecting tuition and fees to decrease anytime soon. With this in mind, most students spend an average of $900 to $1,000 on textbooks per year, and pay this out of their own pocket.

Between the years 1986 and 2004, the price of textbooks has nearly tripled.

Nowadays, the difference in price between a new textbook and a used textbook is very slim.

Some college students have taken it upon themselves to educate their professors about the prices of the books they assign. This may encourage professors to give out the textbook's ISBN (International Standard Book Number) so the students can find the exact edition of the book online cheaper versus the school's bookstore. Some Niagara University professors have already taken it upon themselves to remind students that their course textbooks can be found cheaper online.

Costs for new textbooks have risen as publishers have tried to fight off an expanding trade in used books. The market for used textbooks began exploding with the growth of the Internet as students from across the country connected to buy and sell their books, cutting into the sales of new books and eating away at publishers' market share.

Amazon.com is a great Web site to look for used textbooks. The seller's ship rather quickly, and the quality with which the textbook is described is usually correct.

Students, however, are getting more inventive when it comes to buying new textbooks when used ones are not available. They borrow copies from the school library or photocopy pages from a friend's book. They even pool their cash together to buy one book.

Despite the overall profit, publishers say they are making efforts to reduce costs of textbooks. Five of the leading textbook publishers -- including Pearson, Cengage Learning and McGraw Hill -- recently launched an online marketplace for digital textbooks entitled CourseSmart. Students saved an average of $54.30 per e-textbook last month, according to the site. Meanwhile, enterprising start-ups such as Flat World Knowledge are now offering free online textbooks and charge students fees to download or print them.

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