It’s no surprise that college textbook prices have reached astronomical rates, but more and more students are finding ways around it using the Internet. Some students are uploading copies of their textbooks to the Internet where other students can download them for a discounted price or completely free of charge, according to the Washington Post. [Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty]
According to a recent survey conducted by the Book Industry Study Group, students are resorting to “illicit and alternative acquisition behaviors” when it comes to getting the textbooks they need for their classes. That shouldn’t be a big shocker to them since the cost of the books students need for their classes rose by 82 percent from 2002 to 2012, according to the US General Accountability Office. The practice has become so widespread that it’s easier than ever to get the textbooks. A reporter at Vocativ conducted an experiment to see how easy it is to find five basic textbooks for some core curriculum classes and found they were able to download four of the five books “within minutes.”
The best part is that the schools and textbook publishers are just now catching on to the scheme and they are almost powerless to stop it. All they can do is encourage their students not to illegally download the books but as long as the prices are sky high, that’s not going to stop them. We also learned something even more jarring when it comes to textbooks. Some professors actually write the books for their classes and since they stand to profit from the high prices sales of these books, they can just require students to buy their books. We learned this after we came across an interesting comment in the Washington Post‘s story on the subject…
I am an instructor at a university. After seeing the prices and options for textbooks, I decided to use a free textbook for the statistics class I teach (www.openintro.org). Another professor I know has just written his own book, to distribute free to his students, because the only books he could find for his media class were overpriced. I applaud the creators of these free, open source materials and hope that more professors use them and participate in their creation.
So technically, the real scandal is the little scheme that the professors have cooked up to make students buy their books instead of one that’s cheaper. We’ve all just learned an important lesson in economics. You’ll make a lot of money if you can create your own system of supply and demand.