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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    This or That: Textbooks ­— overpriced or undervalued?

    This or That is a weekly feature in which members of the Perspectives staff weigh in on a campus-related topic and pick their final verdict from two options. This week’s question is “Textbooks — overpriced or undervalued?” It seems every other year a new edition of a required textbook comes out and professors demand you purchase that version. Some students blow off purchasing the textbook because they can’t afford it and others because they don’t think it’s useful. Nobody wants to overpay for a book but their hands get tied when the text is heavily relied on. Alternatively, many argue that textbooks aren’t always a necessity for college success.

    Joshua Segall

    Verdict: Overpriced

    If there is one thing that is beyond overpriced in college, it’s textbooks. As if college isn’t expensive enough, students can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to textbooks. According to the College Board, the national average cost for books and supplies for 2010-2011 school year came in at a whopping $1,137.

    Professors aren’t making it any easier. Many professors opt to upgrade to the latest editions of books that often add nothing more than new exercises and a reorganized chapter structure. Textbook manufacturers are becoming increasingly greedy by including online access codes that expire at the end of the semester to prevent you from selling your textbook. This forces students to buy only new textbooks.

    Textbook alternatives have surfaced such as e-books and rentals, but those still come at a costly price. Students should not have to choose between which textbooks they can and cannot afford. Professors, publishers, and universities should recognize the overwhelming cost of textbooks and realize the importance of textbooks in an education curriculum. Rather than cause students to reach even further into their wallets, publishers and professors alike should strive to make textbooks as affordable as possible to all students.

    Kristina Bui

    Verdict: Undervalued

    Sometimes selling an organ on the black market doesn’t seem so bad. You don’t really need the other kidney. Or, as 7 in 10 students are more likely to do, you could just opt not to buy your textbooks.

    According to a survey released last month by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, 70 percent of college students have not purchased a textbook at least once because it was too expensive. Of those students who said they didn’t, 78 percent said they expected to do worse in the class (even if they borrowed or shared the book).

    But you’ve paid your tuition. You’ve invested in the class. What was the point if you don’t invest in the required text?

    Books are expensive, but not overpriced. The problem is making sure they’re actually necessary. Professors ought to carefully weigh the necessity of a text. There’s nothing worse than a useless book — one that’s rarely used or discussed in class, and hardly comes up on exams. Also, “bundled” texts (ones with CDs or pass codes) and books published exclusively for the UA drive up prices. Professors and students should seek older editions of books that can be rented, purchased used and online, or in digital form.

    But if you’re going to pay to take a class, find a way to commit to it.

    Michelle A. Monroe

    Verdict: Undervalued

    Students under-use textbooks. It’s easy to complain about the $300 book that you only cracked once. But, even if the teacher doesn’t force you to read the book, if you use it as a study tool every night for a semester it’s around $3 a day, and you’ll have a better understanding of the subject.

    Think of textbooks as another fiscal challenge of college. Don’t go to the bookstore the day before classes start and get all new ones. Hell, don’t go to the bookstore. Go on, rent, find a student in the class you’re taking the semester before you take it, and grab their copy with an under-the-table, tax-free cash exchange. Partner up with someone in the class to split the book and have a study buddy.

    It’s the difference between someone who gets a brand new car off the lot without doing research and someone who finds the same car, used and missing a tire and scores it for half the price. Better deals are out there. Figure it out.

    Textbooks are a valuable part of education and students should start utilizing them and stop complaining.

    Kelly Hultgren

    Verdict: Overpriced

    Textbooks are overpriced, hands down. A lot of the items in the UofA Bookstore are overpriced, but considering it’s a convenient location and, when you pay with a quick swipe of the CatCard, the $500 worth of textbooks doesn’t seem so bad. I can’t be the only one who has purchased a required and expensive textbook for a class, only to learn two months later that you never use it. I also can’t be the only one who is left feeling cheated when I sell back a textbook to get $2 in return, especially when the book was 50 times as much. At least the bookstore offers a rental program.

    Jacquelyn Abad

    Verdict: Undervalued

    Books are the canvas for writers and they display their findings and research to educate others. Today, books can be downloaded for free and illegally from the Internet. Print isn’t what it used to be and people do not appreciate the work that went into writing it. On average, our book lists per semester range from $300 to $800. This is a small price for the information that textbooks can provide. Sure, e-books are cheaper but students can get a better grasp of the concepts if they are reading from a book rather then reading off of a computer monitor.

    Let’s be honest, we know we do not want to pay for textbooks because we are broke and cheap college students. But, textbooks are an investment. You are more likely to excel in your course if you actually read and most of the time students read the assigned reading if they have a book in front of them. Once you soak up all the information it has to offer, you can pass it along and share the wealth of knowledge to someone else. Ever since the release of the Kindle, Nook, and other online e-books, textbooks have been seen more as a burden and have become underappreciated.

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