9/11/2005

Textbooks

With the rate of college tuition rising faster than the rate of inflation, students are relying more heavily on loans or other forms of borrowing to get that degree we've heard is so important our whole lives. Tuition bears a majority of the cost that college students pay, but another cost that recieves the lesser attention is college texbooks. Congress has began to show concern over the rising costs of textbooks by commisioning a study done by the Government Accountability Office(GAO). The GAO reported that the price of textbooks have tripled since 1986 bringing the average increase per year to six percent- twice as much as the rate of inflation. This year I would have only saved about $60 by purchasing my books online. I spent over $600 for six books. That is about one-third of what I paid for tuition. Textbook publishers claim that the CD-ROMs, study guides, and other supplemental materials are accounting for some of those costs. If my memory serves me correctly, I can only recall two classes in four years that I actually used any of those additions that created higher prices. And how many times can you revise a history book that is based on a certain time period. I say forget gas prices, I want a discount on my books!

12 comments:

Connor said...

I absolutely agree with your point of text books being priced too high. In the past I have ordered text books online in order to save some money and then I didn't receive my books until half-way through the semester! I ended up needing to buy my books from the bookstore and as you have stated I got ripped off. However, I am not in agreence with your final statement of forgetting the gas prices. Gas price definitely takes precedence. Maybe you should consider sharing books with a classmate and then that would promote study groups which in theory will benefit you even more than just being reactive to the situation!

Ann said...

I completely agree with you. Textbook prices are entirely too high. I payed more for my textbooks this semester than I did to get into SUU! The problem with sharing textbooks is that there are people with very different schedules, and trying to share a book often creates more headaches than it's worth. I think we could cut out a lot of CD-ROMs that come with our textbooks. How many students actually use those anyway?

Alex said...

I agree with you about book prices being to high. If those CD-ROM things are making the price of books go up so much, that is ridiculous. I've never used one, and most of the time when i buy a book that is supposed to have one, there is never one in it. Then when it comes time to sell the book back the bookstore won't take it becuase it doesn't have that stupid disk that wasn't in there in the first place.

Dan said...

Textbooks are definiatly over priced, at least the books that are made to be sold in the US. How is it that $120 book at the bookstore can be sold as an International Edition for $50 brand new. I know the IE is a paperback, but the ones that I have bought still come with the supplemental materials and the pages are in color. So my question is how does a hardcover cost $70?

Logan said...

I also spent over $600 on my books this semester. Statistics say that a four year degree actually takes 5 years to achieve. At the rate in which textbooks are rising, the average student will spend between $5,500 and $7000 on textbooks for his or her under-graduate degree. Ya know, over 5 years that cost doesn't look so bad. I am an optimist, but I feel grateful that I have the oppertunity to invest that money into something that will pay great dividends in the future! Financial sacrifice for education is worth it. If it wasn't, would textbook prices be rising? Think about it.

Mia said...

I agree 100% that text books are being priced way to high. I would never imagine buying my books at the book store instead of online. This past semester I saved over $200 on my books by buying online and they arrived quickly and with no flaws. Buying books from the bookstore is an issue of the past.

Nate said...

I think everyone would agree with the post and I find it funny to see people buying books online for half the cost and even less sometimes. The thing that gets me is the fact that professors say they are on our side and then they change their textbook every other semester. I hope that everybody continues to buy their books online and then sell them back to the bookstore for more than they paid for them!

Morgan said...

I agree 100%! Textbook prices are insane, and I have tried to boycott the bookstore as much as possible. This semester, I bought every text book online, and I spent $140 for 4 books, which is a mere fraction of what I would've had to shell out at the bookstore. Hopefully enough people will find alternative sources for textbooks and bookstores will actually be forced to compete, rather than taking advantage of hard working students.

Dr. Tufte said...

-1 on Bob's post for no link.

-1 on Connor's comment for inventing a new word.

I don't want to seem like I don't feel your pain, but (undergraduate) college education is a phenomenonally good investment. If you have to pay costs up front to make more money down the road, that shouldn't be a problem.

One reason that textbook prices are going up so fast is that we are discounting the price of college. This makes people buy more of it. When they do this pushes up the demand for texts, and as a result the price as well. This is basic economics - one good in a pair of complements is on sale, so the price of the other good is being driven up.

Attributing the price of textbooks to CDs is a diversion. They simply don't add much to the marginal cost.

I can see Mia's point, but I don't think we should read in that changing books is done arbitrarily. Changing texts is a far bigger deal for a professor than for a student, and is never done lightly.

Lastly, college bookstores are part of the problem. On most campuses they have monopoly power, and can use that to charge higher prices. But even so, they don't make so much money that private bookstores can easily compete close to campus unless the campus has 15-20 K or more students.

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Matthew said...

Dr. Tufte said that “we are discounting the price of college.” I disagree. Tuition and fee prices are going up. What I think is going up is the value of college, and so the demand is going up, thus increasing prices. Yet, maybe it's a little of both.

Dr. Tufte said...

What I meant was that state schools like SUU are offering a heavily discounted product whose complement is textbooks. It shouldn't be surprising that the price of the latter is inflated.