The necessary evil of textbooks
During the first week of classes every semester, students are not stressed about due dates and exams, but for their wallets and their parent’s wallets have a much more urgent issue.
It is shame that with already high tuition and often times high rent, students are victim to a textbook business with many players at hand.
Unfortunately, the price of textbooks can be crippling. The College Board reported that the average cost for books and supplies in public universities for the 2017–2018 school year was $1,250.
To make matters worse, textbooks prices are increasing every year.
The reason because of this is that publishers are taking advantage of the department’s and professor’s loyalty to the book and raising prices.
Thankfully, most universities including Salisbury offer books to be purchased for rent, offer them electronically or used for a more reasonable price.
Every student has a different strategy of ordering books and even then sometimes frustration still comes into play whether it would be the shear price, picking up their order and professor’s expectations of how that book will be used in the course.
”It is good to do research on books prior to purchasing because some items are cheaper outside of the bookstore,” sophomore biology major Andrew Robey said.
However, some students have a different approach.
“I stopped ordering books online and just coming into the bookstore and buying them because the differences from used books compared to new books was not enough for me,” sophomore chemistry major Suly DelValle said.
The University Bookstore actually saved students $607,289 last year when they purchased books from the bookstore.
“We are often times expected to be the most expensive, but that is not always the case,” Director of Salisbury University Bookstore Lisa Gray said. “We do our best to offer students as many options as possible for what works best for students.”
What might be a surprise to many students is that prices for books are not picked at random. The university bookstore uses a site called Verba that uses an algorithm to generate how much books will cost based on many factors.
The bookstore also has recently started a purchasing tool titled “inclusive access” where students pay for a digital copy of their textbooks through MyClasses and the cost is charged on their personal account.
While this tool is only available to a couple of classes, the bookstore hopes to expand it to more courses in the future.
In one biology class, students only had to pay $61.99 for all of their materials instead of $300 to buy it physically. Some students even wonder how textbooks become required for any given course and sometimes it depends.
“Some universities do indeed, select textbooks for professors to use, ones they deem the ‘best textbook’ for the course,” SU Education Professor Dr. Vincent Genareo said. “All of the universities I have taught at, from small to large universities, generally gave their professors the power to select books for courses or sections. That is generally the norm in many fields, but there are exceptions.”
Textbooks in every area of study are a billion dollar industry and it trickles all the way down to the students that need them to pass their courses.
Unfortunately, there is not one single best way to purchase books for some people want to keep a physical copy for future studying but some people cannot afford it.
All that students can do is hope that their books to not cost too much and upon discovering the cost, be smart about what option they choose to access that textbook.
By DREW LACOUTURE