Buying books on the cheap

Every semester, students’ bags get a little heavier and their wallets get a lot lighter.

High textbook prices have been a burden on students for far too long and it’s time to do something about it.

The high price of textbooks severely limits the quality of education for students at UVM and across the country. Students will resort to borrowing a friend’s old book, pirating it or not even buying the book.

Seven out of 10 students surveyed at 13 colleges admitted to not buying a book due to high prices, according to a study by the Public Interest Research Group

Let’s outline the problem. The average student in America will spend $1,200 on textbooks every year, according to the College Board.

The cost of textbooks has increased at twice the rate of inflation, which is not too far behind tuition increases, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

The profit margin is generous for college bookstores, too. A little over one-fifth of the price of a textbook will go to the college store according to the U.S. News and World report.

The cost is outrageous, but what’s more outrageous is how little has been done about it.

Some solutions to this problem have already started to work. At the University of Maryland, a program has been implemented to provide open-source materials to students at all 18 of their institutions, according the Baltimore Sun.

The program asks professors to compile their course materials from free resources online.

New organizations have started to provide free resources to students. Companies such as Boundless.com have textbook alternatives available for free or for very little money.

These companies are riding a wave of open educational resources that have spread over the internet in recent years.

When it comes down to it, though, no solutions have become mainstream.

Asking professors to write their own books is costly and time-consuming. Using open source materials that aren’t course-specific could result in a lot of different information on a topic, confusing professor and student alike.

For now, we can only urge higher education to move in the right direction.

Use your friends’ books. Buy used and shop around. Use the reserve books in the library. Don’t let a backward industry ruin your education.