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Curbing the Costs of College Textbooks - Essay Example

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The paper “Curbing the Costs of College Textbooks” analyzes college tuition costs climb for both public and private schools. Publishers say the price increase is in keeping with the rising costs of printing, along with the expenses related to paying textbook writers, and fact-checkers…
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Curbing the Costs of College Textbooks
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Download file to see previous pages The federal government has even involved itself in the issue by passing a recent law that forces publishers to tell professors how much-required texts will cost their students, and colleges must inform students during class registration what books they will need to purchase for each course. The best and most fair solution for everyone when it comes to textbook pricing is to move away from physical printed and bound books to electronic and downloadable texts. Publishers have every right to make money, but students should have the ability to save themselves money wherever possible while working towards their diplomas. Problems with the current system Students today spend a lot of time and effort when it comes to buying textbooks. Once their class booklists are in hand, the students have a few options as to where to buy their books. There’s the school bookstore, which will usually carry new and used copies of required books, and will buy back some books from previous purchases. Students may also look for their books online, at sites like or, which often offer a larger selection of used copies than the campus bookstore and often at a lower price (Bernard B5). Yet there are a lot of roadblocks when it comes to finding a cheaper, used copy of a textbook. According to a national survey conducted by the Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG) of required college texts, the books are revised and issued as new editions “every three to four years regardless of changes to the subject” (Allen 6). Why is this a problem? Because the older editions are then considered outdated and are made unavailable to students by the publisher. The older editions cannot be traded in for cash or credit at the student bookstore or sold online at or Students enrolling in classes where the new editions are required must buy the books new since used copies are not available. Students also complain that many times they are only required by their professors to read a couple of chapters in a single textbook – despite having to purchase the entire book (Allen 7). In the 1980s through the early 1990s, it was a fairly common practice for professors to offer “course packets,” which were photocopied chapters from several different textbooks and were made available to students for only the cost of the photocopies. These packets were widely considered by publishers to be a blatant violation of copyright law, leading to a lawsuit against a Kinkos in Ohio who was handling the photocopying order for Ohio State University. The publishers won the suit and course packets began disappearing not only from OSU but from colleges everywhere. (O'Shaughnessy 1-2) In 2010, the federal government passed a law as part of the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) requiring that book publishers tell professors up-front, in all marketing materials, how much the book will cost the student. The idea behind this provision of HEOA was described as “an effort to get professors to be aware of what their choices were really costing their students” (Smith A5).  ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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