Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s approval of Assembly Bill 1548 seemed to be a huge bound toward lowering textbook prices, but in its fine print, it does nothing to control the inflated costs.
The bill is weak.
The bill will demand textbook companies to list all specific changes in the new editions of text, as of Jan.1, 2010. It will also prohibit instructors to receive any sort of incentive from publishing company representatives.
While this is a step forward in taking a stand against sly publishing companies and while it will be nice to know the changes in new editions, the bill won’t save students a single cent.
In the end, the government is not going to give us the money for books, and publishing companies are not going to lower their prices.
Instead, publishing companies are probably going to jack up prices even higher because the bill was passed. They probably won’t mind taking the criticism, and will laugh themselves all the way to the bank.
We live in a time where these publishing companies can charge whatever they want.
The only thing left for us to do is to take these matters into our own hands.
Although textbooks can’t be downloaded as easily as illegal songs from LimeWire, there are legal ways to avoid the prices that these pirates charge.
Some students need to sell their books back to the bookstore in order to continue the circulation of used books.
Students can look online for lower prices on textbooks. Sometimes publishing companies sell textbooks to overseas buyers at discounted prices. Rebellious students living on the edge can copy textbook pages on a copy machine.
To the teachers that are ordering new textbooks, could you see if there is the possibility of getting books that aren’t bundled? Bundled books, with their superfluous CDs and other extra items usually only offer anything substantially extra in one area: cost.
Under AB 1548, teachers are advised to order their textbooks with sufficient lead-time. Teachers need to do this because it allows the bookstores to contact new and used book distributors in order to get the copies that you want, most likely for less.
AB 1548 also calls for college bookstores to publish their textbook pricing online. City College’s Bookstore is already doing this.
John Lorelli, City College’s Bookstore director, is also chipping in in the fight against textbook prices. He plans bring to the Academic Senate books from a publishing company called Best Value textbooks. Best Value sells similar subject text at substantially lower prices. We’re talking a typical Micro Economics book at $29.99 when it would usually run at $117.99.
Student Trustee Doug Montgomery, along with City College faculty, are also in early stages of setting up a book rental program to help students avoid the full cost of textbooks. Montgomery proposed the idea after learning that 25 other colleges have successfully put similar systems into effect.
Another option is Textbookflix.com, an alternative to paying full price for a textbooks allows students to rent books by the semester.
If AB 1548 cannot save us any money, all we can do is rely on the resources that will. If these efforts are put into use, we can all count on keeping a little extra cash in our pockets.