Editorial: Book blues

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College is an expensive endeavor, what with classes, rent, car insurance payments, and just getting by. So it seems unfair to have to shell out a small fortune for books.

It would be easy to blame the retailers for rising book prices but things aren’t going to change anytime soon.

In the mean time, there are some things that both teachers and students can do to try and make college as financially viable as possible.

Teachers can pick one edition and stick with it. Nothing is more painful than having a friend who took the class last semester offer you their old text book, only to be told it is out of date. Do we really need an updated version every semester? Surely there can’t have been that many changes in the world of algebra.

Making sure that class book orders are placed on time will also make life easier. If book orders are placed in bulk rather than as a trickle of late requests it saves money and time.

Next, teachers should make sure they really need the books. Don’t make students cough up for $300 worth of “required” books if only a third of them will ever be used.

Instructors should start the year by saying when each text will be used. Most of us go from month to month, and would really appreciate only having to buy the book when we need it. That way we have the opportunity to actually save enough money to buy it.

Since sealed books can’t be returned once they are opened, for the first few classes of the semester, when students are on waiting lists, avoid homework from the textbook. That’s a lot of money to waste on a class you don’t even manage to get into.

For those of us who can never afford the books, teachers ask the library to put textbooks on reserve, available to anyone who takes the class. And it’s not just teachers that can do things to make things easier. Students need to take some initiative too.

Used books can be bought on campus and in town. Also, students often advertise old books on the bulletin boards around campus.

You can even buy used books online, from sites like Amazon.com. You may have to pay for shipping, wait for delivery, and risk receiving the wrong book, but it can save you big bucks.

Until book publishers decide to stop profiting from students need to read, there is no one solution here – but by being creative when looking for solutions, these options that can go a long way towards helping lower the cost of books.