College textbooks: necessary or industry racket

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Published in the January 25, 2017 issue of The Bells

Many a college student has complained about the high prices of textbooks. In fact, a statistic from NBC News in 2016 states that the prices of textbooks have gone up by 73 percent since 2006.

In addition, the College Board suggests to students that they should plan to spend $1,200 for textbooks and other materials a year.
College itself costs a lot of money. Many aspects of the price I believe are worth the value, such as room and board and meal plans. However, spending hundreds and even thousands of dollars on textbooks that a student is unlikely to ever read again is a waste of precious money.

The reason why textbooks are so pricey is because publishers know that students have to buy required books in order for them to succeed in their classes. So, they take advantage of them by raising the costs.
As college students, we have to make wise decisions with what to spend our money on. We work hard to pay off tuition, and adding unnecessary expenses is not helpful.

Most generic books found in bookstores are less than $20 and more than 100 pages long. Last semester, I bought a textbook that was hardly over 100 pages and it cost me $50. I highly doubt that I will read that textbook again since the course that went alongside it didn’t necessarily apply to my major.
Even finding used books, which are cheaper to buy than purchasing new textbooks, are fairly expensive compared to the typical book.
And even worse, if you want to buy a fairly inexpensive book, it is most likely ripped to shreds or written in.
Also, they can be hard to obtain since many people want to buy the used versions and there are only so many of them available.
And besides that, a lot of classes require online access codes which require you to either buy a new textbook with that resource, which is even pricier than a stand-alone textbook, or purchase just the access code itself. According to, a MyMathLab access code with eTextbook is around $100.

This isn’t to say that we should get rid of textbooks indefinitely. Spending time outside of class to refresh our minds and learn more about the content discussed in class is very important in order to be successful.
A poll on campus found that 70 percent of students think that textbooks are useful while 30 percent disagree.
There needs to be a better way for college students to obtain textbooks. Book rentals are one good idea because that means you don’t have to keep the textbooks and they are also cheaper to obtain than to buy new and used textbooks.
However, textbook rentals are still expensive for what they are – books. Textbook publishers need to put their selfish motives aside and make affordability their most pressing matter so that all students can have the opportunity to pay for college and grow in their knowledge.

Author: Sarah Ifft

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