Magic Books

What would make a book worth $180? To a book lover, a first edition of some coveted classic would be worth it. What would make a book worth $300? Well, if it were a magic book that became any book you wished it to be every time you opened it, that would definitely be worth the price. But these books that I refer to, with these hefty price tags, are college text books. 

There is something magical about these books as well. Although the content is nearly identical to the last edition, they have different cover art, and a new edition number every two years. With just a handful of unnecessary revisions, a new edition is created, and the previous becomes outmoded. The price for each new edition increases exponentially. That same book with the $180. price tag, 6 editions ago had a meagre (by comparison), price tag of $39. Yes, since 2002 the cost of text books has increased 82%, three times the rate of inflation. That $300. book is higher than the cost of a class at many city colleges. It is not unheard of for a student to spend $2000 on text books in one year.  

This practice of creating new editions, and as such, making the last edition obsolete, undermines the sale of used books, so junior can’t even find a buyer for his book on EBay. Professor AmI GettingAKickback insists on that new edition every year. Why? What has changed in Medieval Studies, Geometry, or Eighteenth Century English Literature in the past two years that would warrant a mandatory new edition? I am drawing a blank. 

There are text book rental programs at some schools, but even the price of those are dictated by publishers. Many students risk their grades electing to forego the book because of the cost. 

Who is getting rich at the expense of our children’s educations? The National Association of College Stores, claims that more than .77 cents of every dollar goes to publishers. With only five publishers in the textbook market, I wonder, is this price fixing? If it is, why hasn’t the Federal Trade Commission stepped in? 

The only solution seems to be “open textbooks”, which are written by faculty, free to access, use, download to electronic devices, all thanks to the open content licenses on them that legally allow these uses and could save each student $100 per course. Very few schools have gone this route. Something has to be done. A majority of college students accrue years of debt for their educations, but is it right to be in that debt over text books?   

May 30, 2016, Daily One Word Prompt: Blank~ <a href=””>Blank</a&gt;

4 thoughts on “Magic Books

  1. True thing. Even I have stopped buying textbooks and rely pretty much on ebooks, or the forever free textbook that we call Wikipedia…

    Liked by 1 person

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