High textbook prices force students to shop elsewhere
Barnes & Noble, Lieberman’s Bookstore are both falsely guaranteeing lowest prices
Published: Monday, February 11, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 11, 2013 20:02
Since the freshman year at the university, students have been told about the importance of textbooks and how essential they are to their education. Year after year, incoming and returning students are bombarded with information about the university’s pristine bookstore and how it provides a one-stop-shop that satisfies one’s entire list textbook needs. But students quickly realize the astronomical price tags attached to each of their classes’ “required texts.”
Barnes & Noble and Lieberman’s Bookstore almost completely monopolize the textbook market at the university and both of them chronically “guarantee” the lowest prices around. This is simply not true. This semester, a Review staffer set a personal record by saving 57 percent when buying her textbooks at various sources online. Had she shopped at Lieberman’s or Barnes & Noble, she would have spent more than 300 dollars on the exact same books.
There are a number of factors influencing such high prices. Textbook writers and producers are continually issuing updated editions on seemingly unchanging subjects. What need is there to update a Latin language textbook? Yet they persist in creating “new editions,” even though there is often not any new content included and minimal changes made grammatically, in order to keep the prices high and to discourage the reusing and sharing of old books.
Greedy corporate enterprises are not the only parties to blame. The university offers a “Reserve Room” in the library where students can find their assigned textbook and read it at their own leisure. However, this seemingly brilliant idea is muddled by the fact that they tend to only keep very few books per class on reserve. How is a class of 250 plus students supposed to share such a limited supply? Given this policy, students have no choice but to feed the textbook industry and their ridiculous prices by purchasing their own books.
But the real issue here remains how strapped-for-cash college students are being financially manipulated by an industry essential to the education system. Students are already struggling with loans and high tuition costs and, because of this, textbook costs need to be more reasonable. The university needs to stop shoveling its students toward spending unnecessary amounts of money at its bookstore and start providing more options around the high prices.