The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Textbook prices rising

Congress, students watching the issue

“Its ridiculous to pay such a high price for books especially when you don’t even get the cost back when you sell them the following semester.” Catherine Conley, a sophomore EMIS major, said.

Conley is not alone in her frustration in the steep textbook costs. As stated by the National Association of College Stores, a survey showed that wholesale prices have increased 33 percent since 1998 and are continuing to rise. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Producer Price Index, textbook prices are increasing at more than four times the inflation rate for all finished goods.

A new study by the Texas Public Interest Research Group claimed, “publishers engage in practices that artificially inflate textbook costs.” Publishers issue new editions that offer little change from previous editions forcing students to buy the new book since no used options are available. The study also states that the average textbook costs were $900 a year, equaling a fifth of tuition at a four-year public university.

However, students have the options of buying used textbooks at lower costs.

“I feel it’s difficult to find used textbooks and the other options that are available are not well-known. A huge untapped resource for used textbooks is www.Amazon.com. The books are cheaper than those at the bookstore, but a lot of students just don’t know about it.” CCPA major Taylor Armstead said.

Some options to lower costs include making textbooks without color, graphics or pictures. Others include offering texts online. Some students find that they can find cheaper textbooks overseas (such as www.Amazon.co.uk).

Executive director for higher education with the Association of American Publishers Bruce Hildebrand explains, “Everybody who ever went to college can remember saying that their textbooks cost too much.”

Most SMU students buy their textbooks at either the Varsity Bookstore on Hillcrest or the SMU Bookstore on Mockingbird. When randomly comparing three books’ prices, the Varsity Bookstore had the same price if not less. One book in particular, GO! With Microsoft Office 2003, was significantly less, by $74.75, for a new textbook, at the Varsity Bookstore. At both stores this book came as a set with Technology in Action. However, at Amazon.com, these books can be sold separately and the same set starts at $72.60 for used textbooks — as opposed to SMU Bookstore’s $105.60 for the same “bundled” used set.

This summer, Congress held hearings on the matter and the Government Accountability Office was asked to start an investigation on college textbook costs by legislatures. Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R. Calif.) who led the hearings believes, “If a student signs up for a class, they’re pretty much at the mercy of the publishers. It’s not like they have any other place to go.”

Bill Blome, a field organizer of the Texas Public Interest Research Group, stresses, “With more and more evidence coming out about how publishers are gaming the market, you wonder how much longer publishers are going to refuse to act on the problem.”

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