Image by opensourceway via FlickrBuying textbooks is a drag, lets be honest. I am sure you all found this chore as pleasant as getting your teeth pulled, but for the sake of a higher education, it had to be done (the book buying not the teeth pulling).
Maybe I wasn't that good of a planner back in my early 20's but I remember scrambling to get my finances in order to pay for my classes, then get hit with the dread of coming up with more scratch to pay for my books. I distinctly remember going to the first session of my classes to see if could get away with not buying the book so I could save some dough and put that towards next semesters' classes.
Now that I am on the other end of the spectrum, so to speak, working in a college, dealing with books no less, I see things, well....the same. I mean, honestly, I know the professors and writers that write the textbooks need to make money as well, but this is getting ridiculous. How often are revisions of a textbook really needed? Updates need to be made, I get that, but many of the updated versions of textbooks are almost identical to the previous version with only a very few changes of which many seem unnecessary. Add to that the skyrocketing costs of some textbooks, some cost an upwards of two hundred bones each, and the squeeze is on our college students.
One way to alleviate this cost on our students is to do what my school and many others have done and have a 'textbook on reserve' program. The way we handle that here in the library is we have a textbook budget line and we buy, just like the students, textbooks (with a minor discount, something like 10%). Since I am basically am in charge of the textbook purchases, I see how much the books are going for an how quick the publishers are to crank out new editions of the books. I also hear the complaints of students who can't sell their books back to the bookstore because a new edition is being put out so the store won't buy them back. So those looking to sell them back are, many times, out of luck, though when you think about it, is being "stuck" with a book that you studied from really being out of luck?
So the question is, what to do about the rising costs of textbooks? We offer the textbook on reserve program but we always end up with students who feel 'entitled' to have the textbook they need available when they need it. Ah, yes, the lament of many elders when referring to this generation, that they have a sense to entitlement. That's a rant I'll go into some other time. Getting back to it, a selling point of the school here is that the library has the textbook on reserve program but students rely on it too much, feeling that no one else will be using the book they want at the specific time they need it. Suckers! We always tell them to do their work early as there will be a rush around test time for students clamoring for textbooks to study from. As I sit here now, there are a few students in here that are waiting for books to be available.
I wish we had the budget dollars to accommodate the students in this regard but then I am sure that the publishing companies would be on us in a finger snap. Maybe ebooks are the way to go, I am sure they would be cheaper but there would be no selling back the book. I don't know, maybe if more students, and their parents who foot the tuition bill much of the time, were to complain to school administrators and they in turn could raise a stink with the publishers, maybe then something could be done to help the students.