Help fight against high textbook prices

Daily Sundial

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I’m fed up. As a matter of fact, discontentment has been growing inside me for quite some time, ever since my second semester at CSUN.

The reason: textbook prices.

And I am sure I am not the only one who is fed up.

When I first came to CSUN in Fall 2002, prices were quite high. As the years progressed, some U.S. publishing companies have made matters worse: textbook prices are higher today.

History shows when people are tired of being wronged, they fight back, either by violence or with a great social movement. Students are wronged when a CD, which some need but most don’t use, is added to a textbook and, as a result, the price of that book spikes up. We are wronged when barely any content is altered or added into a textbook and the price of a book spikes up another $10, $20 or $30. So I’m going to help in the fight, and I encourage every member of the CSUN community to do the same.

That’s right. I am blatantly supporting a cause that I think everyone should back: Today, from 12 – 2 p.m., some CSUN students will participate in a national campaign that will pressure publishing companies to lower their textbook prices.

According to the Government Accountability Office study, released in August 2005, from December 1986 to December 2004, textbook costs rose up at about 6 percent per year. Almost tripling, the textbook prices went up two times the rate of inflation.

The GAO also estimated that the average full-time college student usually spends $900 on textbooks and supplies every year at a four-year public university.

The Association of American Publishers, however, criticized the report, expressing concerns of inaccuracy. Members of the AAP said the data used in the study exaggerated and misrepresented the costs of textbooks and supplies for college students.

It estimated the average cost for a full-time student to buy textbooks is about $600. It also stated in a letter to the GAO that professors have wide range of differently-priced textbooks to choose from.

The National Association of College Bookstores supported the study, however, stating that after reviewing the report, it believed the GAO’s report was accurate.

Whomever is right, the point still remains: textbook prices are still high, even at $600 for the average student.

Some of the main factors for the increase of those prices, as stated before, are due to the addition of software, a little more content, etc.

Some faculty requests those additions, but several don’t. And since I have been here at CSUN, very few professors have chosen cheap textbooks for students. I’m not the only one to say that, either. I know several students who have moaned the same complaints.

So the pressure is on, and this campaign, which is detailed on www.maketextbooksaffordable.com, has already started.

There are different tactics you can use to fight these textbook prices. Buy books from British web sites, or switch books with your fellow classmates at www.CampusBookSwap.com.

High textbook prices aren’t new, obviously, but a zeal to send those prices slowly streaming down the high-priced ladder hasn’t been instilled into the CSUN community, at least to the best of my knowledge.

Whatever any one can do to make textbooks affordable, except for getting violent, do it.

Pressure will get to these publishers to lower them. It’s time to get up and do something. You should be fed up, too.

Sam Richard can be reached at samuel.richard@csun.edu