Pop Quiz: The Horror of Textbook Prices
At the beginning of a new semester there is always a little bit of excitement in the air. Everyone looks fresh faced and ready to take on the subject at hand. I notice that as I pass out the syllabus and we go through it the students attentively listen with hope in their eyes for that golden A at the end of the semester tunnel. That is until I tell them they need to buy this $100.00 lab manual that has maybe 100 pages in it and cannot be sold back at the end of the semester (not my choice.) Then faces turn sour and the hands begin to shoot up asking the same question every time.
“Can we share lab manuals. I cannot afford another $100.00”
To which I sigh and tell them that I cannot stop them from doing that but if their partner forgets their book I do not have copies to give them. Sometimes this works and sometimes it is a disaster.
In my opinion the price of textbooks has gone way out of control. I know of one textbook in use at one of my colleges that the price is actually more than the price of the course. If I were a student in that course I have no clue how I would pay for the book. It is hard enough for the students to find the money for tuition let alone a ridiculously priced textbook. I have seen several times a student that just cannot buy the book but still takes the course hoping the lecture material will be enough to get them through it.
I have always thought that if the colleges stop using these high priced books this may drag the prices down. However, I have no idea what the cost breakdown for these books are. I only know that the one semester when I was allowed to create my own lab manual for a course the cost was nothing more than paper and binding and it was cheap.
Does anyone know the breakdown of textbook costs? Do you think that the costs of textbooks are horribly inflated? How do you help a student who just cannot afford the textbook?
The Pop Quiz is a question posed to you, the Scholars of Doubt. Look for it to appear Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons (ET).
Featured Image: A shelf full of books. Source: Wesleying