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Pinching pennies

Tuition fees, textbooks, lineups, course outlines. It isn’t hard to tell that the holiday season is over and a new school semester has started. Students are in a daze as they scramble to get re-organized and dive back into their routine as they return to the familiar classroom environment.

Is it just me or has the price of university textbooks increased exponentially over the past few years? The price of textbooks these days is astronomical. The high prices has become the norm at universities with individual titles costing as much as $200 new. Students are continuously making sacrifices to obtain their desired education.

New classes inevitably bring new expenses. The cost of textbooks is not a new concern for students; it has been an ongoing issue. Like tuition fees, the price of textbooks has soared in recent years. The high price of textbooks has been a financial hurdle for many low-income students, sometimes even jeopardizing their education.

For some students, the total cost of all their textbooks for one semester exceeds tuition. This is outrageous. There is no reason for publishing companies to charge these ridiculous amounts, leaving some students struggling to afford them. Students will continue to purchase these textbooks and the dollar amounts will be added to the sky high student loan balance, which is devastating as students usually depend on books to keep their costs down.

Indeed, it is practical to purchase a textbook with the hopes of selling it the following semester. Unfortunately, publishers feel the need to constantly update textbooks, releasing new editions with minimal additions all the time that destroy the value and desirability of the old editions. It is all a money making ordeal, forget the low-income students struggling to survive and continue their studies.

Do not get me wrong, many students are successful in their pursuit to sell or purchase second hand books. At the beginning of every semester, all campus bulletin boards are plastered with ads selling second hand books. Of course, this is a nice concept, but if you do not act quickly, well, you are out of luck. By the time you actually find the required book, your first assignment or course evaluation has already been submitted.

Another thing that irks me about these publishing companies is that they are intentionally taking advantage of students because evidently students will somehow end up buying the books. Many students would rather pay full price then spend ample amounts of time searching and contacting several students hoping to find the necessary textbook.

Unfortunately, this is a vicious cycle, with no end in sight; textbook publishers have monopolies on their particular textbook areas and disciplines and that is unlikely to change. New textbooks will be published bi-annually and students will continue to bend the purse strings to buy them. I just wish it were recognized how many sacrifices students endure to attend a semester of university.

Solutions for students include buying the textbook used, buying the textbook online, sharing the cost of textbooks with fellow classmates, trying to read the textbook online (if it is available), or requesting that professors place an additional copy of the textbook on reserve somewhere on campus.