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Textbooks, e-books, open-source books, book rentals, used books and new books are all available to students for different prices, but what do you choose and when is each option available to students?
OSPIRG is trying to raise awareness of the cost of textbooks sold by campus bookstores with a 40-campus tour of Textbook Rebellion across the country with Lane Community College being the thirty-sixth stop on the tour.
“We have our advocate here today and we are trying to get the publishers to tell professors how much the books are for the students. In the past the professors are the middle men in a way, because the professor picks the books and then the cost gets passed down to students,” said Trever Hutcheson, the campus organizer for the event.
“What we’re trying to do now is just raise awareness to other options besides just getting the books from publishing industries,” said Hutcheson. “One of the ways is open-source textbooks so you can actually get them free online and we’re working to make sure that professors this year are aware that there are open-sourced textbooks for their classes, for a lot of classes and to be aware of those options, and also to get professors and faculty to write open source material to increase the market for that,” said Hutcheson.
Asked what specifically they were trying to get passed with the petitions, Hutcheson said they were just using them to bring awareness and instill added pressure to the publishing community.
LCC student Robert Kimbrell walked by the Textbook Rebellion and decided to help gain support through student petitions. Kimbrell said a “$200 French book” drew him to the campaign.
“The cost of text books is really, really high for students, when a lot of times the text book is outdated by the time it’s printed, and there’s a new copy already coming out within the next couple of months that they’ll want,” Kimbrell said.
Kimbrell said he wants “to get things changed,” adding, “College is already expensive enough without adding up a thousand dollars a year in textbooks on top of everything else we pay for and plus if they go to a more online based book it saves a lot of natural resources.”
Nicole Allen, Textbook Advocate, is based out of Boston, Mass.
“Textbook costs have been rising four times the cost of inflation over the last two decades and the issue just continues to get worse and worse and worse, but on the other hand we have a bunch of solutions. OSPRIG and the student pirgs have founded a coalition called the Textbook Rebellion which is behind the national tour and the goal of the textbook rebellion is to organize a united front of all state quarters on this issue, so not just students but also faculty and administrators and parents,” Allen said.
She added, “With our tax dollars we spend millions and millions on textbooks through financial aide so this affects everyone.”
We have a lot of solutions that are out there. We have rental programs, we have used books, shopping online, and then we have longer term solutions as well like open sourced textbooks that are freely available online that anybody can use and be purchased in print at a low cost.”
Allen said flatworldknowledge.com is the best example of open sourced textbooks.
Tony Sanjume, the Manager for the Titan Bookstore said he did not know about the Textbook Rebellion but does agree that textbooks are too expensive.
“One of the primary jobs of the Titan Store is to try to bring in books as cheaply as possible and we have several people that work very hard to do that. We do things like used books, buy backs, we just enhanced our rental program so we went from about eight rental books to almost a hundred and we’ve probably saved students this quarter about $90,000 and we’re going to try and expand that program in the future.”
Sanjume said rental books go for up to 75% less than the price of a new book.
“We’re doing the way we do rental books this quarter a different way. You can rent new books and we’re renting used books. Basically if a book is eligible for rental then we’re giving the students the choice of whether they want to rent it or buy it at the register,” said Sanjume
In terms of prices, Sanjume said the Titan Bookstore has no control.
“That’s up to the faculty. Our only control is the sourcing, but the publisher is the publisher so we have to buy this text book from the publisher if it’s new and if it’s a new edition. In subsequent quarters it falls into the wholesale used market. There are eight national wholesalers and then there are other smaller ones that sell textbooks but they buy them from students, so once the faculty chooses the book. All you can do is try to get it used and if it’s a brand new edition we’re not going to get it used,” Sanjume said.
When asked if he tells the faculty the cost of the books when they order them he replied, “We do not tell them, however, publisher reps are supposed to. That is one of the complaints that we hear that the publisher reps do not tell them. From our perspective it’s the faculty member’s decision. Now with that being said if they come in with a request for a book that costs three or four hundred dollars then yes, but in general no we don’t tell them.”
One of the main goals of the Textbook Rebellion was to inform instructors and students that publishers are now required by law to provide pricing information on textbooks when instructors inquire about them.
“This quarter we’ve added to our website a link that compares prices, so if a student logs into our website they can see the price of the book everywhere,” said Sanjume.
“I’m not saying we’re the cheapest but you can at least compare prices. And you can create a shopping cart with those vendors.”
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