Textbooks are often an unexpected burden for people entering into the educational world, either for the first time in their lives or for the first time in a long time. The sticker prices on these books, whether they are as thin as fingernail parings or tomes as heavy as medieval religious texts, are phenomenal.
However, if there is any part of the educational gamut that students can control, it is the cost of their textbooks. This is fortunate because the overall costs of getting an education these days are simply outrageous.
It seems hard to believe that you could go to a major state university just 20 years ago for roughly $1,000 per semester. In some states, you could pay even less. To boot, this was a time period in which the regents’ offices in each state were handing out scholarships to students like they were candy.
The situation is much different now.
Scholarship money has turned into loan money. The price of tuition at even the least expensive state universities has tripled, quadrupled or even quintupled.
Yet most professions are not making much more money than they did back then and the children of the people who went to school back then are facing costs much higher than their parents did with much less money.
Adding unnecessarily to this financial burden is the ridiculous price of the average textbook. Many students and their parents are shocked to see that their textbook prices can rival their tuition costs. There are few alternatives available and no one wants to pay as much as they are for education and risk taking a class without a book.
The Scheme Behind Textbooks
It would not be so tragic a situation if it were not completely avoidable. Why tuition prices have climbed is a topic for another time, but the price of textbooks is not a necessary burden for any student. Yet, unfortunately, the whole thing makes sense from the standpoint of human nature.
Most textbooks are written by professors, who live under the burden of having to publish in order to maintain their standing in the educational world. They also stand in a position to earn a great deal from their writing because they have crowds of students passing through their classrooms every year.
You should not be surprised to learn that the author of the outrageously expensive textbook that you just bought is a professor at a university. Many times, you will find out that the author is your professor or that he or she teaches at the same university. With captive audiences, it is hard for professionals to resist the temptation to capitalize on the opportunity.
So your hard-earned dollars or your high-interest loan dollars are going straight into the pockets of these professors. There are, however, some options for you. You do not have to keep pouring money out for these over-priced books.
Someday, hopefully, the advantages of the Internet will eliminate these costs entirely. In the meantime, you can limit the amount of money that you spend on texts in one or more ways.
You cannot take on the entire university establishment by yourself but you can limit or even eliminate the funding for the outrageous textbook scheme that they operate. As long as people keep feeding this monster, you can expect it to keep asking for more.
As soon as more students begin to take advantage of alternative ways to purchase or otherwise access textbooks, this system will wither away.
There are some on-campus alternatives that will at least lower your own bills. For example, you can buy the textbooks and sell them back at the end of the term. This can recoup some of your expenses but it still leaves huge hole in your pocketbook.
Another option is buying used textbooks and then reselling them. You initial costs are lower and you can get back much of the money at the end of the term when you sell it back to the campus bookstore. However, this still just plays right into the hands of the people that are charging too much money for their own work.
It turns out that you can find a lot of the textbooks for sale on the Internet. Many companies on the Internet sell the same books that you need for much lower prices.
Examples of such companies include names like Chegg, which sells a wide variety of texts for very low prices. They ship them just as fast as many universities will if you order them online.
The only faster way to get your books is to buy them in the bookstore on campus. However, you will pay a lot more for the benefit of getting your book a few days earlier.
Finally, you can take advantage of getting a digital version of your text with one of these companies or by using ebook opportunities. You can download the text onto a tablet, Kindle or some other ebook reader. These options are far less expensive than any other and they do not feed nearly as much to the textbook beast.
You cannot use this option in every case. For instance, some lab classes are going to require that you turn in certain pages that you have rip out. Nevertheless, buying the lab book online would still be cheaper than buying it in the bookstore or through the University directly.