By Elijah Lutz, Copy Editor
This summer, while preparing to return for my sophomore year, I made a purchase of just under $500. This purchase was sadly unavoidable. I simply could not prevent the inevitable punch-in-the-wallet that came from buying my textbooks for the fall semester. As a few tears fell from my eyes, and I watched helplessly as my bank account lost over half of its content, I asked myself the question that so many other college students ask this time of year: Why?
The rising price of textbooks has sparked a conversation among those in higher education–students, professors and administrators alike. Most students are obviously opposed to the rising prices they must pay to have the materials for their classes. As a student who might have the ability to eat fancy at a place like Cane’s once a week, money is hard to keep, and forking over $500 of my hard-earned summer cash is not something I appreciate doing.
According to The Atlantic, the price of textbooks had gone up 812 percent from 1978 to 2013, as compared to the price increases in medical services (up 575 percent) and new homes (up 325 percent).
There are many reasons for the constant rise in prices. One reason is that professors will assign the text to the students and have no consideration for the price, or the students’ ability to pay for it. Another reason, though trivial, would be the constantly changing editions of various textbooks that include changes between critical information, or minor typos. This becomes problematic as students must shell out the outrageous prices for the latest editions, or risk the possibility of earning a less than superior grade in the class.
According to Academic Publishers, however, the process of creating updated textbooks is a long process that is both expensive and requires extremely hard work. This process “demands” that books be charged at high prices.
So why not buy used textbooks? Even then you won’t be able to get off so lightly. This semester, I decided to buy all of my books used. Nevertheless, three of my textbooks were required to be both new and of the latest edition. The reason for this is because of extra materials provided with the book: an access code to online material, or an added bonus, that may or may not be used in your particular class.
For example, MySpanishLab is an online program that provides coursework only accessible with an access code. These codes come with the standard textbook for Asbury Spanish classes, ¡Anda! The latest edition is $175 on Asbury’s Online Bookstore, but I wondered how much of the price was because of the access code provided with it? After looking at MySpanishLab’s website, I found that you could buy an access code separately if you use a used book. The code, believe it or not, is a whopping $95 for only one semester of access.
So is it really fair to charge these insanely high prices for textbooks? According to a piece written in The Washington Post last year, Henry Farrell, a political science professor at George Washington University, stated that forcing students to pay hundreds of dollars, in addition to their tuition, for books that restate knowledge that can already be freely obtained is unethical.
It is my opinion that though textbooks may be some way to still pass on valuable knowledge, we are now in the digital age where nearly all information we need is at our fingertips. We should be embracing the use of the internet in schools, and make it easier on college students to afford their schooling, rather than making it more difficult.
Choosing to go to college is a crucial step that shows we want to learn. Outrageous prices only discourage people from taking that step, especially those in the lower socioeconomic classes. We should be making it easier to earn an education, and textbook companies that focus only on the profit they obtain from consistently high prices certainly do not help make things easier.