The Crestiad

Cedar Crest College newspaper since 1923

The Real Price of a Textbook

Emily Baxter, Web Editor

I thought I scored a deal on Amazon. After all, a “good condition” textbook for $40 is pretty sweet.

That is until I found out I had the wrong edition.

Off I walked to the Cedar Crest College Bookstore, knowing Amazon wasn’t going to save me this time because I needed the book in two days. I picked out the right edition, but I almost fell over when I saw the price.

This book, a paperback nonetheless, cost me about $200!

My purchase, along with thousands of others, summarizes the sad part of the college experience. Why do textbooks have to cost an arm and a leg? Why can’t textbook publishers stick a price on them that doesn’t have to break the average college student’s bank?

According to a USA Today opinion by Peter Funt, The College Board estimates that the average annual cost of textbooks for one college student is $1,168. Unfortunately, the hard copy of a textbook’s price is likely to get worse before it gets better due to the economy.

But what about e-Textbooks? An e-Textbook is sold to one user and therefore eliminates “used” copy prices and distribution. But the prices of e-Textbooks aren’t much better than hard copies. Comparing “Media Now,” the 8th edition hard copy, with the e-Textbook on Amazon, there is a difference of about $5.

Thankfully, there has been some congressional action with the Higher Education Opportunity Act enacted in 2010. Cedar Crest College is required to show all books that a student might need for their particular classes so that students can “evaluate the costs.” Peter Funt also says that publishers must offer textbooks separately from workbooks and CDs, which can add to the rising cost.

The primary factor of rising textbook costs is professors picking out books that are really expensive but necessary. Most textbooks that I’ve seen are necessary but somehow end up being very expensive. Administrators can order professors to quit ordering new editions that only have cosmetic changes, but what professor will do that, especially if the changes are necessary to instruction?

As electronic formats start to appeal to many more textbooks, publishing companies can lower prices to compete with e-Textbooks. Until then, college students are stuck with the fact that textbooks aren’t coming down in price any time soon.


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This entry was posted on January 23, 2013 by in Opinion.
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