BRITTANY MONTAGUE — Staff Writer
With the recent increase in textbook prices, students like Kara Westbrook, social work major, are finding innovative ways to be fully prepared for class with the assigned required books and without having to purchase them directly from the bookstore.
“I get my books from the Chegg website,” said Westbrook, “it’s really cheap. You can rent them.”
A typical semester of textbooks for Westbrook would cost her about $500 for seven books. According to the College Board website, in the 2010 – 2011 college school year, the national average spent on textbooks at a four year public school was $1,137.
Book sales have decreased because of electronic books, renting and a number of textbook aggregator websites. This pushes publishers to up their prices in an effort to make up for the lost interest margin. Larry Gal, director of Southern’s bookstore, said the store personally has no control over rising prices.
“Publishers of the textbooks make the prices, they tell us what they want us to sell them for, and we mark them up 25 percent more than that price,” said Gal.
Westbrook said she understands the bookstore is a business and need to make a profit, but “the prices are unreasonable for college students.”
His freshman year, accounting major Richard Rugarema, said there was no such thing as renting a textbook, so he had no choice but to purchase his books and most of his textbooks cost around $220. Rugarema now rents his books for half its original price.
Under the Higher Education Opportunity Act, a bill passed by Congress in 2008, sets regulations to help make textbooks affordable to students. Publishers are required to disclose prices when marketing textbooks to professors. This law gives professors flexibility and time to consider lower cost options. Publishers are also required to offer all of the items in a textbook for sale separately. This gives students the opportunity to only cover the cost of what they need, and not anything extra.
Even with the recent increase in prices, Gal said he doesn’t see a decrease in textbook purchases, that in fact there has been an opposite effect.
“The amount of students purchasing books has increased, because we have more rentals for students. Rentals on books are half the original price of the book,” said Gal.
These new options for students purchasing books have actually increased book sales. Gal also said the increase in textbook prices were one of the reasons the bookstore decided to give renting books as an option in the first place to students.
What does the increase in textbook prices mean for both current and future students? Gal said renting will still be an option, and he believes more people will be opting to rent or buy digitally, as it costs less.