Bookstore offers e-solutions to overpriced printed books

Nicole Sharp

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A recent report released June 1 to the U.S. Congress could have California State University students without textbooks in their campuses’ bookstore.

The report, “Turn the Page: Making College Textbooks More Affordable,” was released by the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance (ACSFA). It was recognized by Congress as a possible formula for a long-term solution to the rising cost of textbooks and software.

“Steps must be taken to increase the affordability for all students, especially for those from low and moderate-income families,” the report shows.

Several programs currently being developed by the CSU system are listed as suggestions in the report to help lower the cost of books. Such programs include electronic versions of textbooks, no-cost online textbooks and interactive Web-based text.

In 2006, Howard P. McKeon, chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, wrote a letter to the ACSFA urging them to “investigate the problem of rising textbook prices to determine its impact on students” and to make any recommendations to Congress on what can be done to “make textbooks more affordable.”

McKeon acknowledged “too many students and families are struggling to meet rising tuition, high student loan debt and the soaring costs of college textbooks.”

Amy Berger, manager of the Matador Bookstore at CSUN, said the bookstore would begin offering electronic versions of several textbooks this fall semester.

“Not all textbooks will be offered this way,” Berger said. This will be the first semester CSUN has offered any textbook in electronic form. More textbooks will be offered in e-book form beginning this coming spring semester.

The bookstore has made buying these e-books simple. If students want to buy an e-book for a class, they take the display card next to the printed version of the textbook up to the register. The card is scanned at the register and a receipt will be printed out. On the receipt, there will be instructions on how to download e-book content. Students can then download the content to a computer.

“I think that it is a good idea,” said freshman business major Cammie Long. “What if someone has a problem downloading the book? ”

Should there be a problem downloading an e-book, students ought to return to the bookstore and ask for assistance.

Although it will be up to the publisher how much their books cost, Berger said electronic textbooks are being offered at about half the price of old-fashioned tangible texts, but they cannot be sold back to the bookstore.

Byron Baba, chair of the University Affairs Committee, has been a major supporter of the new textbook initiative.

“Some students will benefit from this program, especially those who are secure with using technology,” said Baba, a business law and finance major.

For the past two years, Baba has been working on trying to establish another program, an Ebay-themed program, students would be allowed to sell their used textbooks to other CSUN students. Those selling the books would set their own price.

The pilot program would remain a student-run project to ensure that it will only be available to CSUN students.

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