Textbook costs force paychecks for pages

BY KELBY CLARK
Contributor

For the approximate 2.8 million full-time students at a United States community college, buying textbooks can be one of the most costly aspects of attaining an associate degree, according to the American Association of Community Colleges. Many CCM students, share a similar frustration with the rising price of textbooks across all retail platforms, including online vendors and the campus bookstore.

“Textbook prices in this country are outrageous,” said Anhelina Mahdzyar, a computer science major at CCM. “Our academic institutions don’t seem to care about how this affects us financially. Students are already burdened enough as it is by high tuition costs; we shouldn’t be made to spend even more. I don’t buy my textbooks anymore, and I encourage other students not to.”

University textbook prices have increased by 102 percent from December 2001 to July 2013 and are 812 percent higher than they were in 1978, according to Bloomberg and The Huffington Post.

Approximately one-fifth of a textbook’s price goes to the college bookstore or retailer while more than three-quarters of the profits go directly to the publisher according to the National Association of College Stores, a nonprofit trade association that represents the $10 billion campus retailing industry.

Across the country, many students at community colleges and an increasing number of students at four-year universities avoid buying textbooks just like Mahdzyar. A recent study released by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group stated that 65 percent of students admitted that they did not buy some books in an effort to save money.

However, the lack of a textbook as a resource may negatively affect a student’s success in their chosen course.

Brandon Tellawy, a biomedical engineering major at CCM, seeks out retail outlets that sell textbooks at cheaper prices than the CCM campus bookstore to ensure that he still has the resources available to be successful in his studies.

“I buy off Amazon; I make sure I have a hard copy,” Tellawy said. “You come here, [CCM bookstore] and you’re not saving money. The alternatives should advertise themselves.”

There are a variety of alternatives to buying the newest textbook at a campus bookstore or purchasing them through online vendors that range from the purchase of e-books, to the buying of the cheaper international or used editions of the text, to the rental of textbooks and even the sharing of a book between classmates.

James Adkins, a professor of art history at CCM, noted that the majority of students are savvy when it comes to finding the low-cost option in the textbook market.

“Now and again, students will bring up the cost of textbooks, but I think most are pretty savvy in terms of their options, be it Amazon, used copies, etc,” Adkins said. “Textbooks can certainly be expensive individually, and can quickly add up each semester. But, it is all about how much they are used. I remember my Art History books costing $125 to $150 each, which certainly seemed like a lot when I was an 18-year-old freshman. As I got older though . . . and was really focusing on topics that interested me, the cost of books wasn’t so hard to swallow, as I saw the books as valuable tools, rather than things I would only need temporarily to perform well in a class.”

For students that don’t want to be without textbooks’ and many of the other material aids that are requirements for their courses, the CCM bookstore stands as both a source of variety, and a retail outlet fully devoted to serving the CCM student body.
“I encourage all students to have faith in the bookstore, this is your bookstore,” said Abdelilah Ennassef, store manager and director of Auxiliary Enterprises. “We [the staff at the CCM bookstore] are sensitive to the very high prices. So come talk to us and don’t make assumptions. Under my supervision, this department will be open to student opinion and input, twenty-four seven. We are a business, but the number one objective is to serve the students, listen to them, and work with them. I would like to hear from you, what we are not doing right. There is always room for improvement.”

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