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College Textbooks are a Broken System and it is Time to Demand Change

Don’t forget to budget money for books when your teenager goes away to college. The cost could be higher than $1200 each year! Ethan Senack, a higher education associate who works at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) says “the textbook market is broken and students are paying the price”. †

Most parents unless they have been to college themselves recently or have sent an older sibling of the student, don’t fathom that the free books given to students in High School, have a free market distribution method in colleges.† On top of that the college book business is a runaway market outpacing inflation, the college tuition increases, salary growth, health care cost, housing and most other records kept for comparing expenses and costs for the last 30 years (American Enterprise Institute). In fact, the Institute says college textbooks have risen 812% since the late 1970’s! What’s behind this runaway train adding expenditures to the up and up cost of tuition each year? Have you ever heard of college tuition going down from the previous year’s cost? Well it might help to understand the differences of the college course reading assignments compared to the free high school education set by our municipalities that we each live in. In High Schools the same text books are chosen for all students and often at discounted bulk sale prices. Whereas colleges let the individual instructor choose the material he or she teaches from, creating smaller markets, and letting publishers charge a premium, lacking any price controls.† And then professors are urged to publish their own books in their subject of expertise, which sometimes leads to them capitalizing from their own students, a double dip, adding to the professor’s personal income. †And also there is the issue of publishers keeping the subject relevant to the students. I admit when you read current topics from the news in your college text books, it makes the subject seem closer to your life. Publishers take advantage of that connection feel by releasing updated books every three to four years, so used books then loose value extremely fast.

Now the downside to all of this is starting to rear an ugly affect. Students are starting to skip buying books or choosing to avoid some classes because of the reading material not fitting their budget. This is resulting in students taking longer to finish their degrees, and also students choosing to be unprepared and settle for a lower grade than buy a course’s book. The last thing parents want to hear is their child who they sent to college to improve themselves, are making choices not in their best educational interests. This problem has been brewing for a while to the point that more and more educators are becoming aware and have started to put into place an alternative solution. Unsustainable price increases always reach a limit before major readjustments. The idea is open books, which are often free to download, easy to update, and are starting to be demanded by students and college professors. Besides being available online often a hard copy of the reading material can be bought for a reduced price. Only a small portion of the market is using this revolutionary idea, but the more of us parents who know about itBusiness Management Articles, the more pressure will be put on universities to adopt cost cutting textbook methods or settle for lower grade point averages and fewer students.

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