Monday, November 14, 2011

The Textbook Pinch (Second Draft)

Nelson DeSa
The Textbook Pinch

If you walk into G building to see an obnoxiously long line of disgruntled students pouring out from the book store and filling the foyer, then you know it's the beginning of a brand new semester at Bristol Community College. Most of them dodge the hour long wait and make their purchases online but what cannot be avoided are the outrageous cost of textbooks. Be it new, rented, used, or even digital, students are feeling the pinch.

Coupled with a drowning economy, can students even afford to further their education? We are facing a growing trend that may appear to only get worse. In the Intelligencer Journal/New Era, Enelly Betancourt, writes: states that in 2010-11, the average student spent $1,137 a year for textbooks and other materials at a four-year public college. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group released a new survey stating the price of t extbooks has risen 22 percent over the past four years. College textbook prices have increased at twice the rate of I nflation - six percent each year from 1986 to 2004 according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

I haven't been in a classroom since I graduated from an automotive technical training school in 2004. I had no idea how to obtain the correct books for all my college courses, so my plan was to just pay a quick and easy visit to the school store. The cost for brand new textbooks would put me at a loss for words. The total cost exceeded $500 which was well above what I wanted to spend. How could I, or anyone for that matter, afford to better themselves through education with issues like unemployment running rampant? Something needed to be done.

Students need to make alternative decisions when purchasing their books. Rentals are wildly popular on campus even though a smaller percentage of the original cost is refunded. Those that opt to go with the e-version of books also purchase the great advantage of accessibility. Less books may not outweigh the fact that you can still spend 60 percent of what the average new textbook costs.

If a new book is a must, then you should consider selling the book back to the store. The buy back cost however, could drastically change if college professors continue to use them next semester or if there is a newer edition coming up. If your like me then you'll invest in a good used book. To pay about half the price and have the option to keep the textbook after completing your semester is a value unto itself. For example, a complicated major could possibly merit a review of material that you covered in that Psychology class during your freshman year.

Purchasing textbooks online can save you a great amount of money but make sure your getting exactly what you need for your classes. Some editions are printed overseas which means your getting a slightly different textbook than the student next to you. If your professor requires you to use addition media, such as online tests, your stuck with buying new unless you purchase the key-code from the publisher directly. In that case your spending just as much as if you were buying the package from the get go.

Aside from some of the conventional options discussed earlier, why not take it a step further and think outside the box. Alex Campbell notes in the Chronicle of Higher Education, about how Daniel Flint, a professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, is taking a different approach. He writes:

Mr. Flint, a professor of marketing at the university, used a new build-your-own-textbook service called AcademicPub, which arranged payment of royalties and compiled the material for publication. His students were given three options for buying the book: Download a digital edition for $14.95, get it in paperback for $27, or go for the hardcover for $45.

Some of the ideas listed I was unsure about at first, but thanks to the advice of some close friends, I was able to make smarter decisions and save some much needed money. In some cases I had no choice but to purchase new textbooks but when I could, I would get them used. Places like, Barnes&Noble, Chegg, Coursesmart, and BookStop should be recommended whenever possible. If you happen to have an old textbook that a friend can use, let them borrow it and save them the cost. Fresh ideas like the service AcademicPub are what colleges need to look into to help students. It would benefit the community because properly educated people can set out to turn this economy around.

Works Cited

Campbell, Alex. “New Digital Tools Let Professors Tailor Their Own Textbooks for Under $20;
And that's just one option, along with mix-and-match Web sites from big publishers and libraries of open-source content.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. 9 October 2011, Suburban: 1. LexisNexis Academic. Web. 4 Nov. 2011

Betancourt, Enelly. “Students Scrimp on Costly Books” Intelligencer Journal/New Era (Lancaster, Pennsylvania). 4 October 2011, Suburban: 1. LexisNexis Academic. Web. 4 Nov. 2011.

Post-write: I feel that that paper is still just satisfactory. Due to some technical problems, I was unable to get any feedback through peer review. I really feel that the eyes of another reader is important in order for me to write another draft. Therefore, I have re-posted the original copy in hopes that I can get some feedback from peers. I will then apply these observations to the portfolio process. What remains to be done is a genuine second draft. Does the reader feel that a second draft is needed? Would the reader feel confident creating a second draft without a peers observations?


  1. Hi Nelson:

    I think that this is stronger than you led me to believe. You have a good, clear statement of a problem, one that is both local and national.

    You draw from sources effectively, although I suspect that you could trim the quotations just a bit to fit even more seamlessly, and perhaps offer your commentary more fully.

    I do have to admit that the solutions that you mention are, as you say, "conventional" and already in place. I wonder if you could think out of the box yourself, starting with a discussion of the implications of the publish it yourself model. I'd like to hear more of that, pros and cons, as well as other unorthodox suggestions for BCC directly. Of course, you will need to anticipate costs/counterarguments.

    I think you have something good here. Keep with it.

    is the outrageous cost: are the outrageous cost
    insert comma: The total cost exceeded $500 which

    fewer print books? Less books
    are students your readers? then you should consider selling
    If they are, then the opening information would already be known to them, right? Keep your reader in mind, okay? Think of someone in the position to effect change.
    why the cap? Psychology class
    you are: your getting
    additional? addition media

  2. The problem of textbook costs are very clear and it impacts not only at the local level but nationally as well. Although there is some bloated quotes that could be trimmed, I was able to draw information from the source effectively. I should add some more insight as to where I stand on the issue with some commentary. I should sum up the conventional methods that most student are fully aware of and concentrate more on expanding the unorthodox idea or perhaps adding some more outside the box avenue for the student readers. I felt like you did a great job picking up the loose ends on my annotation. I can take the skills such as critical thinking and apply them to many different assignments in my future. I'll be able to more effectively dissect papers and get to the root of the article quickly.