The Price of College Textbooks

Can somebody explain the cost of college textbooks? Even the cheapest cost more than sixty dollars usually. I left my house today with two hundred and sixty dollars, figuring that that would be enough for the books. My college, despite its many flaws, has a bookstore that usually carries many used books. Used textbooks are great because they are cheaper and sometimes have someone else’s notes already in the margin, which can be helpful.

I entered the bookstore and immediately found my books. I noticed that one of my professors had assigned six books to the students of his class, but I wasn’t worried, because each book didn’t cost much used and I was sure that in the stacks of books on the shelf there would be a few used books. I began to get worried after I rifled through every stack and didn’t find any used books. The books I was looking at would already cost me over two hundred dollars and I still had one more class to get a book for. I was relieved when I found the book for the other class and noticed it was a paperback that wasn’t large and didn’t look all that special.

My relief was short though as I looked at the price. The book was one hundred and forty dollars. I desperately tried to find a used copy, but to no avail. I looked on the book’s copyright page and realized why there were no used copies; the book had just been published. Still, why was the book so much; it wasn’t anything special.

I had to get more cash out of the bank before I could buy that book, so I decided that I would buy the books I already had picked out for the other classes. I already knew the books would come to over two hundred dollars and that I had enough for those books at least. I bought the books and headed for the nearest branch of my bank to get money for the other. I found it and withdrew enough money to go and get the other book. A bunch of books that aren’t even that great cost me three hundred and sixty dollars.

The point I’m trying to make is that there is absolutely no reason why the books cost so much. I’m told because the author of the book puts so much time and effort into writing the books, so the price is compensation for the pay they receive. A textbook needs to be researched and it is a strenuous process. I’ll grant that, but if it takes so long, then why are most books just updated editions. They’re not anything new and what is added to the new editions is only minimal, so it couldn’t have taken the author that much time.

Somebody said it is the publisher’s cost for the production of the book. All of the books I bought today do not look as if they were hard to produce. The books have bland covers, some with stock photos, and are printed on cheap paper. It couldn’t be production costs, because it already seemed as if the publisher cut corners beforehand. I finally figured out why the books had cost so much.

The college had intentionally raised the prices. How did I know that? Because I did research when I got home. I checked for the same books I had just bought and found that I could’ve gotten them all a lot cheaper. The college had gouged the price of the books.

So why did they do it? Well, a college bookstore is the surest way of raising money for the college. I know they have a lot of overhead at the bookstore and that it couldn’t all go to finance the college, but most of the profit does. Students have to usually get their books from their college’s bookstore and not anywhere else and the college is aware of that. My money for my books bought my lousy football team its jerseys without the college actually having to look for donors.

Then I figured they must have added fuel charge toward the price of the books as well. Some of you may ask why? Because the books do not walk to the bookstore themselves. They have to be delivered and the delivery company is charging the college for fuel and the college is passing that cost on to students. It sounds more like a conspiracy theory, but don’t doubt its validity for a minute, other businesses are charging fuel costs, so why can’t the college bookstore?

The fact is that there isn’t anyone to look out for the buyer of the book. The buyer is either a very poor college student who is working through college or a very poor college student’s very poor parents. The buyer is never thought of, because everyone at the top of the line is looking out for number one. The consumers should protest this, but then how would they get their books for college and they need to have their books. It’s a hard, unfair road as far as textbooks go, but I guess it must be traveled and that college students should just grin and bare it.

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