(To my fellow professors, try to minimize the cost for your students. I'm often stunned by the disregard, or straight out ignorance, some professors have about the costs of their assigned textbooks. While you are at it, teach your students how to find used textbooks.)
Students Seek Alternatives as Textbook Prices Mount
By Shreema Mehta
Originally published by The New Standard; reposted on AlterNet
A recent study finds that the college textbook industry is driving up costs and restricting cheaper options and suggests alternatives students can use to save money.
The report, released by the members of the Student Public Interest Research Groups (Student PIRGs), a network of campus-based advocacy groups, said textbook companies are taking advantage of a skewed market in which students are forced to buy books assigned by professors.
Students spend an average of about $900 on textbooks every year, according to the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress. The GAO also found the price for books had tripled between 1986 and 2004, growing at twice the rate of inflation.
The Student PIRGs point out that "the party that orders textbooks -- faculty -- is not the same party that must purchase textbooks -- students -- removing price as a primary consideration in the ordering process." The group also notes that students have no way to "exert their own market power" by finding competitors with lower prices.
The Student PIRGs also criticized publishers for frequently releasing new editions -- often without adding significant educational value -- and thereby squelching a used-book market. Companies also add CD-ROMs and other supplementary "bells and whistles" that drive up costs.
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