CD-ROMs, additional course materials add to soaring text prices

AMHERST, Mass. (U-WIRE) – The average college student knows that upon graduation they are facing a seemingly endless array of loans that will take years to pay off, and with the increasing costs of tuition, many are asking why they must pay outrageous sums for textbooks.

Every year students are forced to shell out hundreds of dollars for textbooks they will only use for one semester. After college, graduates are forced to struggle with loan payments along with the cost of living.

According to MassPIRG – a statewide non-profit nonpartisan public interest organization committed to environmental protection, good government, and consumer rights, the average student will spend nearly $900 each year just buying textbooks. A press release issued by MassPIRG declares that one of the reasons for high prices on textbooks is because the publishers do not disclose the exact prices to the professors assigning the textbooks to their classes.

One problem is that most of the staff claims they would take prices into consideration when assigning books for classes. Another cause of soaring prices is the practice of bundling textbooks, where additional materials like CD-ROMs come with the textbooks, even if they aren’t mandatory for the class.

In addition, the most commonly bought textbooks have new editions published every three years, thus explaining the vast increase in price. Worldwide, the United States seems to charge more for textbooks, generally charging 20 percent more than in the UK. In order to solve this problem, MassPIRG has taken steps to pass legislature that will reduce the costs of textbooks.

One piece of legislation is the Affordable Textbooks Bill which, according to MASSPIRG representative Molly Chafetz, “will require that publishers make textbooks available without being bundled, and disclose prices to professors.”

While waiting for the legislation to pass, MassPIRG urges that publishers produce new textbook editions only when they are necessary for educational purposes, and offer faculty and students the option to purchase textbooks unbundled.