It seems like no big deal. At the beginning of the semester, students walk down the everlasting runway stairs in the Union and take a sharp left at the bottom. For some, the journey ends there with maybe a caramel swirl iced latte from Dunkin’ Donuts. The brave continue on into Springfield College’s book store. Anxiety strikes. Throats swell. Heart rates increase. Palms sweat.
It’s time to purchase college textbooks again.
The shelves are filled with frightening information. Students of Occupational Therapy drop their jaws at an Occupational Manager textbook priced new at $213.35 and used at $160. Math students gulp when they see the price tag for their new Human Motor Development book at $162.50 and used for $122. Biology students double-take at the costly Human Anatomy and Physiology book new for $369.50 and $277.25 for used.
It’s no secret to any college student that buying textbooks is one expensive proposition.
“I knew from my older brothers and sister that books were going to be expensive, so over the summer, while I was working, I tried to refrain from buying frivolous things so I could save up for books,” says freshman Erin Womboldt.
A semester’s bill for textbooks alone can average well over $500 according to textbooks.org. Depending on the major, many courses of study require a number of classes. Calculating books, lab manuals and workbooks for a rough estimate of 44 courses adds up quickly. SC students in the science department spend on average $500 per visit. Students in the English department need new books at the beginning of each semester that average between $200 and $400 spent per visit. Over the course of four years, a student can easily drop between $4000 and $5000 on textbooks alone.
Why are college textbooks so expensive? SC bookstore manager Nikki-Dee Thelen shares why the bookstore prices have increased, as well as textbooks all over the country, with her common knowledge of supply and demand to distributors.
“The biggest driving reason these days is that college students are really shopper savvy.” Said Thelen, “They can go online to amazon.com, ebay, Half.com. They’re able to find books other places easier, and because the publishers aren’t getting their sales directly from us anymore, they jack up their costs, causing us to increase prices as well.”
There are ways to relieve the burden. As mentioned by Thelen previously, online shopping is the biggest “Mr.bFix It” when it comes to broken bank accounts and books. Adam Lapointe threw his arms into the air, and a swear escaped from his mouth in reaction to the price of his book. Lapointe, a senior Youth Development major, managed to avoid his $265 book by exploring his online options. He found the book he needed in the sixth edition instead of the seventh for a price difference of $265 to $3.75.
Several other ways to help save money include buying used or renting, yet this can still be very costly. Professors have the option to keep books on reserve for their students; however, this is time-consuming and restricting. Only 78 professors out of 208 full-time professors use this option at Springfield. That percentage varies for every school in the nation. Some students even gamble with the idea of not buying books at all. This may be a risk, but sometimes the risk is worth taking. “I’ve spent $191 on a book and never opened it,” shares junior Becca Jacobson.
In the future, this issue might disappear entirely. President Obama’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan shared in a news article posted on philly.com that he believes the nation should move away from printed textbooks all together. “Over the next few years, textbooks should be obsolete,” said Duncan.
With this movement he believes that it’s important to not only keep up with times, but also to keep up with other countries who surpass America.
These changes are still some years away though. For now, at the beginning of each semester, students will continue to take a leap of faith down the Union stairwell, and empty their wallets in exchange for their college textbooks.