By Lauren Ebben:
Disco wasn’t the only thing that rose in the 1970s. According to an NBC News analysis, the price of textbooks began to skyrocket in 1977. And, unlike disco, the high prices stayed in style.
Based on the data provided by the NBC report, the price of textbooks has risen a staggering 1,041 percent between 1977 and 2015. At this point, most student bank accounts are barely staying alive.
“The price of textbooks are determined in two ways,” Dennis Leslie, AC bookstore manager, said. “Some books are what you call a trade book. Like, say you have a lit class and they are requiring you to read ‘Madame Bovary,’ that’s a trade book. Those we buy from a publisher at a discount and then we put whatever margin we need on them. With regular textbooks that come from like Pearson or someplace like that, they are sold at a net price to us and then we figure a 25 percent margin.”
Leslie said textbooks are expensive because they cost a lot to create.
“The publishing of a textbook is a costly procedure,” Leslie said. “Those companies are paying whoever wrote the book and sometimes, that’s multiple authors getting royalties for their work. Textbooks are usually printed on higher quality paper, with color illustrations. All of that costs extra.”
Sites like Chegg and Campusbooks offer used textbooks students can rent at a cheap price.
“Used books and rentals, those are the ways that we try to direct faculty so that we can keep the prices lower for students,” Leslie said.
Some students keep their costs low by simply not purchasing textbooks.
“With my degree plan, most of my time is spent on a computer with editing programs, not with a textbook,” Keegan Brown, a mass media major, said. “Plus, they are expensive and I pay my own bills, so I can’t always afford textbooks.”
And Brown isn’t the only student to purposely go without. A survey published in “The College Store Magazine” by the National Association of College Stores (NACS) stated that, in fall 2016, 61 percent of students admitted to not even buying required course materials because the cost was too high.
However, the NACS survey also stated the average amount of money students spend on required reading annually has actually fallen in the last 10 years. Students spent, on average, $701 on course materials in 2007. In 2017, the number is at $579.
“We sell a lot more e-books and access codes. That’s one way the student is actually paying less,” said Leslie. See pages 4 and 5 for textbooks.