The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The High Cost Of Textbooks
Teri Barth / [email protected]

TEXTBOOKS COST MONEY, AND new college textbooks can cost a lot of money. For many cash-strapped students the high price of a textbook means looking for alternatives to the campus bookstore.

The Student Associated council held a special student action committee meeting in mid-October to discuss textbook pricing.
The American Enterprise Institute Public Policy Blog reported last year that the price of the average college textbook had increased by 812 percent since 1978.

Student Senator Gavin Fielder, secretary of public relations for City College’s Student Associated Council, lists textbook prices among the chief complaints the council hears from students.

According to Fielder, students feel the high prices of textbooks are related to unnecessary bundled software and online laboratories.

“Complaints about textbooks and Aramark’s cafeteria are what we hear the most,” said Fielder.
Like most students, Garrick Wong, nutrition major and math tutor at City College, considers textbook prices a serious issue.

“I can sometimes find the books I need used online,” said Wong. “But it is a problem for me [financially], when I have to buy new and then try to get my money back by reselling.”

Some of Wong’s classmates are pretty savvy when it comes to buying and selling textbooks online, he said, while others borrow hourly-reserved texts from the library, and others trade in photocopied packets.

“I know some students who actually can make money selling copied packets of textbooks,” Wong said.
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Anne Licciardi, dean of mathematics, engineering and statistics, said that professors are sensitive to the problem of high textbook prices.

“When a professor selects a loose leaf edition of a text, it’s because it costs less than the new edition, even though it can’t be resold to the bookstore,” said Licciardi.

When textbooks are sold with software that a professor does not require, it is because the publisher is offering them at a discounted rate.

According to Licciardi, City College professors are allowed to select their own course materials. There is a list of approved texts for professors to select from, or they may choose alternatives after having them reviewed by other faculty members.

“The bundled textbooks are usually $5 to $10 cheaper than the regular  books would be, and we do attempt to make sure we are getting the best price,” said Licciardi.

The Student Interest Research Group, a national student organization, reported in 2010 that the Higher Education Act [passed by Congress in 2008] went into effect. The key provision of the act requires that textbook publishers disclose prices to professors so they may consider the cost to students.

Additionally, two other key provisions of the act require that texts and supplemental materials be sold separately and asks that changes in texts and editions be posted at least one semester prior to a change.

The group’s website, www.studentpirgs. org, offers shopping tips and alternative online sources for textbooks. 

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