This may sound strange, but I always looked forward to owning my textbooks in college. In high school, I loved receiving paperback books when we started a new novel because it meant the book was mine. I love to read and add to my own personal library.

In college, I think ownership of a textbook is a student’s opportunity to create a library of resources for use in his or her future career. When I worked at my internship over the summer, my mentor constantly referenced the shelf of textbooks he kept after graduating college. He used these books to answer my questions, ensure he understood patterns in refinery processes, double check design parameters, etc.

Textbooks are a crucial source of learning for all college students. However, textbooks are also extremely expensive. With the high cost of college, it can be difficult to find the means to pay for both tuition and new textbooks at the beginning of a new semester.

A new report surfaced this week on textbooks and here’s what the study found on textbooks:

  • Students spend ~$1200 on textbooks per year.

    2014-02-03 00.48.12

    My Spring 2014 semester textbooks.

  • Textbook prices have increased 82% over the past 10 years.
  • 65% of students do not buy required textbooks because they’re so expensive.
  • 94% of students not buying required textbooks are worried about how this decision will negatively impact their grade.

There are methods to lower costs which were not included in the study. I could have spent $900 on new textbooks this semester, but instead I’m borrowing and buying used books from students for $150. But sometimes, that’s not an option when a brand new book is being used or a new edition of a textbook comes out. Book exchanges and borrowing does not change the fact that textbook prices have a negative impact on students.

Students should not be forced into buying brand new versions of their textbooks. In a digital age, more textbooks need to be available online and through open source technology. If the major cost of printing is taken out of textbook pricing, costs can be significantly lower. These types of textbook media are becoming more available, but not quickly enough to meet student demand. In the mean time, textbook publishers need to search for more ways to lower textbook costs so that students may receive a good education, regardless of their financial situation.

2 Comments

  1. Textbook prices might be high, but as a recent college graduate, I have no way of referencing my digital textbooks. My computer crashed so I would have lost all digital notes and books. I do frequently (well… occasionally) use and reference the (not digital) notes I took in college as well as my hard copy textbooks.

    Paperback textbooks as well as competition in bookstores and textbooks themselves should help though as the prices are a clear problem.

    Great post!

  2. Justano Therengineer

    I get a sense of completeness whenever I have the required books in my possession during the semester. Unfortunately sometimes I do get the book and don’t end up using it or use it for a topic only to find that the book doesn’t actually cover the topic. I’ve started ordering the international editions of the books because the US editions are too expensive. Paid $15 for a $150 book. It might be illegal but I don’t care; I like my 90% discount.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: