Rising Textbook Prices

Our group has conducted valid research and all agree that the high price and ever-rising cost of textbooks in the state of New Mexico has become an issue. Luis Argon Castro, Catherine Ponce, Mathew Hagman, Saul Velez, and Hannes Harmon have conducted thorough research to bring this problem to the forefront of issues in New Mexico. We wish to open the public’s eyes to the knowledge and information produced by us on this matter. It feels as if commercial companies, publishers, and authors are taking advantage of students statewide in order to collect high profits, which happen to be increasing yearly.

The prices have been substantially climbing every year since 1994 and have now surpassed the rise of inflation. Higher education is becoming more and more expensive for students. Not only is tuition continuing to increase in cost, college textbook prices are drastically increasing as well. We as students are curious as to why the prices of textbooks are so high, and why they increase at the rate they do. It is becoming more difficult for students to pay for college along with their everyday living expenses.

Students are concerned as to if New Mexico colleges and universities have the students’ best interest in mind, or are they simply interested in profit. We have identified what is behind the price of textbooks as far as their actual worth, and how much is profited by the companies providing the books. Moreover, we have explored alternative solutions for students when purchasing textbooks. We are presenting fellow students all the different alternatives, both legal and illegal; they currently have in order to save money on textbooks. Our objective is to significantly impact the way students and government look at textbook’s rising prices.

The desired outcome would be to drive down the price of textbooks required for college students in the state of New Mexico. We have presented rules/legislation that would benefit the students. Among the major steps in our solution, we intend on exposing those responsible for absurd prices on textbooks, which are used to form tomorrow’s leaders and fellow citizens. By exploring and analyzing the facts, we have proven that the rising cost of books has no correlation with inflation or rising tuition. Higher cost textbooks are definitely an issue that affects not only the state of New Mexico, but also the whole nation.

A vast amount of students are reaping the high expenses of these textbooks prices. Here in New Mexico more and more students are complaining about the high priced textbooks. Even more complain of the small amount of money refunded to them when the “buy-back” begins. It does not make sense that a student makes less than half of what was paid at the end of a semester when re-selling a book. It especially doesn’t make sense when the book is then put up for sale the next semester for more money than the student made back. This is a serious problem, and is unfair.

Who is really benefiting from this? Obviously someone other than the students is. Students already pay an average amount of five to six thousand a year before purchasing textbooks. Students who do not receive scholarships resort to taking out large unsubsidized and subsidized loans to pay for tuition, and at least $900 out of these loans goes to purchasing textbooks every year. Additionally, if a student does not drop out due to financial problems, they could potentially resort to working long hours, thus detrimentally affecting their grades and performance.

This is most definitely not beneficial to the state, let alone the university or the student. If a student is forced to drop out due to their financial needs, how does that reflect on the University. This is a financial factor that definitely can be controlled by the University to prevent drop out rates. We firmly believe that action must be taken before the prices continue to get out of hand. Textbook prices are raising four times the rate of inflation. Since 1994 the cost have jumped 62 percent. The most common textbooks for college students are republished every 3 years.

The cost is then raised 45 percent more than the previous textbook at a used price, and 12 percent more expensive than the previous new text. The availability of the used textbook is limited for following years. Studies showed that this new release of the textbook was only justified half the time, mostly because of a bundle wrap with a textbook, CD-ROM disc, and additional information. Publishers also charge the American student more for the textbook than students outside the states. A calculus textbook that cost 100 dollars in the United States goes for 38 dollars in the United Kingdom.

A chemical principles textbook priced at 185 US dollars cost 88 dollars in the United Kingdom. An increasing amount of students and faculty are becoming more aware of this issue, and some are standing up to question the motives of publishers and ect. As well as seeing the impact high priced textbooks are having on student here in New Mexico. From a poll taken here at New Mexico State University 75 percent of student felt that textbooks were to expensive while 15 percent said they were acceptable. Over the past 25 years, the overall price of textbooks used by college students has dramatically increased throughout the United States.

Aside from the statistics, the consensus about this matter is overwhelming not only by students, but also by professors and parents. It is no secret that higher education in the nation is becoming more and more exclusive as the amount of money required for it skyrockets. According to the website Inflationdata. com from 1984 to 2008 the overall inflation was 78. 47%. Contrastingly, a 2005 report from the GAO, the Government Accountability Office, showed that for the period from 1986 to 2004 the cost of tuition increased 240%. ttp://www. gao. gov/new. items/d05806. pdf Alarming enough as this is, the issue that concerns and affects us the most as “mid-way” college students, is the rate at which the price of textbooks required for classes is voraciously increasing. Additional findings, like the ones made by Charles Pekow, illustrate how due to auxiliary products accompanying the books such as: CD-ROMs, solution manuals, website passkeys, and others; the price of textbooks is actually increasing faster than tuition. (http://diverseeducation. om/article/4852/) A study by the California Student Public Interest Research Group states that the practice of “bundling” books with non-required materials rose 21 percent between consecutive editions. (http://www. washingtonpost. com/wp-dyn/articles/A30151-2004Sep17. html) In 2004, the textbook industry accounted for more than $6 billion in the United States alone (National Assoc. of College Stores). The students who suffer the most due to the rising cost, are often community college and public universities Associate Degree seeking ones.

This is because they tend to be from a low-income sphere and therefore attend schools with the lowest tuition. According to James V. Koch, a professor of economics and president emeritus at Old Dominium University, most professors do not know the cost of the textbook they recommend or require, thus causing the demand for such to be “price inelastic”. Furthermore, he argues how universities become passive accomplices to high book prices, as they tend to earn more money as students spend more on textbooks; thanks to their bookstore contracts.

After discussing several factors on how companies drive the prices of textbooks up in his article, he finishes by adding: “If that doesn’t work, they’ll bring out a new edition and with the help of bookstores, render obsolete the old copies. ” Which leads us to the ultimate gimmick, a highly obnoxious one, and common nowadays among the industry. A 2004 study by the California Student Public Interest Research Group found that textbook publishers release new editions every 3. 8 years on average, regardless of changes in information and/or problems with the textbooks context.

Furthermore, of the textbooks surveyed in such study, it was found that new editions cost $58. 00 more than the older version. This puzzles us as students as we find it absurd that books on well-established, centuries-old disciplines such as calculus, electricity/ magnetism, history and such; need to be updated every 40 or so months. When we talked about the high price of textbooks with people, whether 5 or 20 years older than us, they all had the same view. They agreed that what we pay currently for a textbook is “insane”.

So evidence suggests that textbook publishers are simply pursuing greater profit margins now than they did in the past. Several decades ago, the market used to be dominated by reasonable textbook companies that we assume, really cared about scholarly texts, and not so much about being uncontrollably profitable. Naturally they would seek some line of profit, but in the past, such line could be comfortable and modest thus satisfying the owners/directors. However, today’s market is significantly different.

Now, traditional textbook companies have been bought up by gigantic conglomerates, which are plainly concerned about obtaining massive profits. This is dangerous and needs to be acted upon, otherwise textbooks will continue to turn into “one more” product line, just like toilet paper or tires or shoes, on which to profit out of. An additional remark that can be make is the fact that many formerly independent textbook companies are being bought up and merged under the same corporate umbrella, which in turn reduces competition, therefore hindering Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”.

We created and conducted a survey and gave it to college students, we asked them various questions about their opinions on the current state of textbook pricing. When we asked students what is the most you have spent on an individual textbook to date 59. 1% of those surveyed said the textbook cost them over 200 dollars. Additionally we asked how much money they had spent on textbooks this semester and 45. 5% of the student surveyed said they have spent 400 to 500+ dollars plus in textbooks (Figure1).

Over a student’s college career this could add up to around 4000 dollars, which could be two extra semesters worth of tuition at a school like New Mexico State University. When this money for textbooks is paid for with student loans at the current federal subsidized rate of 5. 6% according to the U. S. Department of Education’s web site (2010) this 4000 dollars in books will earn roughly around an additional 900 dollars in interest at the end of 4 years. Figure 1: Amount Spent on Textbooks Survey Results: How do students typically pay for their books. Our survey found that about 59. % pay for books with their own personal savings and additionally 27. 3% use a combination of personal savings and federal and private loans to pay for textbooks. With this we then asked students if they thought their textbooks came with unnecessary supplemental materials such as cd-roms, online access codes, etc and an astonishing 85. 7% of those surveyed said yes. The Government Accountability Office (2005) report found this to be true as well. Regulators working for the Government Accountability Office spoke with publishers who said prices have increased due to the additional supplemental materials.

With this in mind students may become more apt to get jobs and or take out more loans to pay for college. With loans and the cost of both books and college tuition exceeding the rate of inflation every year students are faced with more and more debt every year which contribute to drop out rates and low grades. A study by the Government Accountability Office (2005) found that the costs of textbooks exceeded the rate of inflation two times and prices of textbooks have been rising at about six percent a year ( para. 1 p. ) There may be relief to the problem of increasing textbook prices according to an article in Diverse Issues in Higher Education (July 2010) the 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act which took effect July 1, 2010 would make publishers provide more information to colleges about pricing before book selection and would put restrictions on bundling books with the additional supplemental materials. This in effect would help students find alternatives to the exploitation of the textbook market. A solution that has been increasingly popular has been textbook rentals.

For example the book Technical Communication Today (3rd Edition) is available from the New Mexico State University Book store (Barnes & Noble) new for $77. 15 or used for $55. 55. You can purchase this book for as low as $49. 00 on amazon. com. This same book is available from chegg. com for $33. 59 a semester, and from campusbookrentals. com for $36. 24 per semester. These rental sites may be a good alternative to buying pricy textbooks but for some websites various editions and selection can be somewhat limited.

According to (Salazar, 2010) despite solutions and legislation that has been enacted to help curb the prices and give students more choices, the selection of books is decided ultimately by college faculty and the prices are set by the publishers. There are possible solutions that could be implemented by New Mexico community colleges and universities to help make textbooks more affordable to students. Faculty should consider possible alternatives available such as custom editions of books tailored to universities and unbundled books as well as digital editions.

Universities should consider book trading events and swaps as possibilities and alternatives to buying books. Universities and colleges should also consider the use of “older” editions of books for fields and classes that do not change much between editions such as mathematics, chemistry and physics. It must be ultimately realized that the most up to date information can be taught from the use of peer reviewed academic journals to show latest discoveries and findings in certain fields rather than relying on information condensed in these pricy textbooks.

There may be relief to the problem of increasing textbook prices according to an article in Diverse Issues in Higher Education (July 2010) the 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act which took effect July 1, 2010 would make publishers provide more information to colleges about pricing before book selection and would put restrictions on bundling books with the additional supplemental materials. This in effect would help students find alternatives to the exploitation of the textbook market. Five companies publish nearly 80% of college textbooks (Thomson, McGraw-Hill, Houghton-Mifflin, Wiley, and Pearson).

There are four major wholesalers that dominate the market and own or operate some college bookstores: Follet, Barnes and Noble, Nebraska Book Company, and College Bookstores of America. These companies are very active with unused and used books. For example, they can typically buy unneeded new books from bookstores for 15%-25% of the original cost and resell them for about 50% of the original cost In December of 2008, the NMSU bookstore was sold to Barnes N Noble. The store is a privately owned company that has locations across universities around the United States, as well as an online store.

Luckily, the students of New Mexico State University have a second option, witch is an off campus bookstore and has a lower prices for textbooks to compete with Barnes & Noble’s prices. “A book that the bookstore is selling for $180, I would normally sell for $120,” said Miller, who is a general manager at the off campus bookstore. Textbook sales are profited by more than just the retailer store supplying them even though they take 40% of each sale. Publishers take between 45%-55% plus the author’s royalty’s, which is 8% to 15%, and then the distributor gains 10% off sales.

So on a book that cost $27. 95, the retailer would make $12. 58(45%) author royalties make $4. 19(15%) the wholesaler would make $2. 80(10%). Publishing breaks down to pre-production at $3. 55(12. 7%) printing at $2. 83(10. 125%) and marketing at $2(7. 15%), which totals $8. 38 and a total of 30%. Now considering that a textbook cost much more than $28. 00 and sells more than one textbook, these profiteers make a significant amount. In 2008, college book sales reached 4. 3 billion dollars, meaning the people who profit off textbooks aren’t doing so badly.

Obviously, it cost money to create a book, but one reason these book prices are raising is because of quality of paper and illustrations used. Hard back or soft back books makes a difference in cost. Considering that books are reprinted every 3 to 4 years, it seems that making a less quality book could work perfectly fine. The feeling of cracking a new book open is one of the many pleasures enjoyed by students who still buy paper books. “Paper book” buyers are becoming a dying breed. The book industry, like the movie and music industries, has changed greatly with the advent of new technologies like the Kindle, and the iPad.

Applications that make electronic digitized versions of almost any book available at your fingertips. The e-book is lighter and cheaper, and since it is paperless, it is also awfully environmentally sociable. For students in particular, more and more textbooks are being made available in this electronic format, and at times saves students as much as 70% off the price of the textbook. One downside of this is that you can’t re-sell e-books. However, being cheaper and not taking up shelf space, you may not be so desperate to get rid of them.

One thing that cannot be overlooked is e-book piracy. This is likely to increase exponentially as more students buy e-readers, and look for the cheapest way to up load textbooks. The music industry’s history with piracy will be repeated as piracy is becoming more widespread with students. Book publishing houses are forced to come up with better models of distribution, like cheaper prices for textbooks. One Web site, Textbook Torrents, promises more than 5,000 textbooks for download in PDF format, complete with the original books’ layouts and full-color illustrations.

Users must simply set up a free account and download a free software program that uses a popular peer-to-peer system called Bit Torrent. Other book-download sites are even easier to use, offering digital books at the click of a mouse. In the article On the Web, a Textbook Proliferation of Piracy the author Young consults a creator of a piracy textbook website “The founder of the site, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of legal action against him, said in an interview that he considers his actions “civil disobedience” against “the monopolistic business practices” of textbook publishers.

He said he views the 64,000 registered users of his textbook-download site as votes against a system that charges students too much and continually raises prices. ”(Young 2008)Whatever they come up with, it needs to be done soon so students can avoid high prices without having to become an internet pirate and repeat of the ridiculous litigation. Students also are sharing textbooks with classmates to save money on textbooks.

All a student needs to do is establish a study group, total the amount of money needed for textbooks for one student, and have everyone in the study group pitch in the same amount of money needed for the books, and procure one copy of each required book. The next step would be to distribute the book in a way so that everyone in the study group gets a copy of the textbook. Electronic version of textbooks can also be purchased, copied and then emailed to classmates.

Some digital photographs of physical textbooks have even been found on the internet, then made copies of those files and electronically transfer the scans or photographs to classmates. Sharing textbooks is a very straightforward approach to solve the problem. Just like prescription medicine is cheaper internationally, textbooks are much cheaper internationally than in the US. An International Edition Textbook is simply the international counterpart to a US Edition. Most international editions have slightly different covers and many have different ISBNs on the outside covers (although some have the same ISBN as the US edition on the nside), but are still printed on high-quality paper. Renting is a tempting option for the reason that many textbooks depreciate quickly or become difficult to sell after professors discontinue using them or publishers release new editions. In the article, Renting can cut textbook costs, it gives a valuable percentage, “With the annual cost of buying college textbooks averaging $1,000, a growing number of college bookstores, publishers and online providers are offering students the chance to rent out their books at a savings of as much as 70%, according to The Wall Street Journal. (Diverse Issues in Higher Education 2009) Renting textbooks is a way for students to obtain the book they require at cheaper price, and without the negative possibility of their textbooks becoming worthless by the end of the semester. In the last few years there has been an increase in online businesses that have started to rent out textbooks, this makes it very convenient and also cost efficient for students at any university. Piracy of e-books, sharing textbooks with classmates, students buying international books and renting textbooks, are several of the tactics being used by students to try and combat unreasonable textbook prices.

With our economy today students are usually living from pay check to pay check, money is tight which in turn causes the tendencies of students trying to save as much money as they can, and if that means pirating a textbook, sharing, renting or buying internationally, is cheaper then students don’t hesitate. Textbooks enclose numerous positive effects on the academic lives of students. Unfortunately, this may affect the student’s life finically as well. The ease in finding information relevant to studies is its primary benefit to readers.

Along with this, the ability to add side notes or highlight key points makes textbooks a great study guide. For students who are self-motivated and wish to integrate textbook work with other sources, the companion websites, DVDs, workbooks and other supplements offered in addition to most textbooks give students additional methods to learn the same information. Furthermore, the ability to review what is learned in any course using the textbook in conjunction with other course materials makes this an invaluable tool in any educational setting.

While often seen as a one-time-only tool, textbooks also provide an acceptable reference for most academic writing (for instance, term papers, essays, and thesis), and may be resold online or at the campus bookstore. Some textbooks can also be returned without charge if borrowed from the campus library. All these benefits are negated if it is unaffordable to the student. Why should the student have to immediately sell the textbook back to the bookstore just to make ends meet? Especially, when those books could later help the students in other classes and even after college.

Textbooks should be a pleasant item, not something most college students perceive to be unaffordable. Textbooks are supposed to be a tool to help students succeed. They should not to be a deciding factor in some poor college student’s career because of their ability to purchase required textbooks. New Mexico, being such a poor state should place as a very high priority to safeguard and regulate the state’s educational institution and ensure college students do not have to pay an unreasonable amount for their books just so a bookstore can make a 25% profit.

Instructors and textbooks work together to enhance student comprehension of course materials. The difficulty level of the information provided inside a textbook increases gradually, making retention of key points easier. Since chapters from the book are usually presented as course topics, textbooks also make it easier for instructors to organize tests and structure lectures and classroom activities. As new editions are published, new insight to old topics is provided, in order to keep readers current with new technologies and other findings related to the subject matter.

The more students understand about a subject, the more effective lectures and other course-related activities tend to be. College administrators should work closely with instructors to ensure that students have access to all necessary textbooks. If New Mexico can make it easier for a student to afford textbooks, students will not find as many obstacles as they currently do to graduate college and succeed. New Mexico State provides many benefits to the city of Las Cruces. When there are more students enrolled at NMSU it has a positive affect on the cities economy.

For instance, the students who decide to live off campus are beneficial to the real estate market. Apartment owners are more likely to fill their complexes when more students attend the university. Homeowners also are more prone to rent out their houses during the academic school year. Coldwell Banker reality found that more parents are buying homes instead of paying rent fees for their student. More then half of their realtors are seeing purchases coming from student parents. The hotel and tourism market also is reaping the benefits provided by New Mexico State University students.

When families and friends come to visit the student, hotels are able to reserve rooms for these guests. Furthermore, the restaurant industry makes a profit, from the visitors eating out for their meals. It is economically in the cities best interest to keep student enrollment high at NMSU. When NMSU loses students due to dropping out, Las Cruces essentially loses money. If students are unable to pay for college expenses, drop out rates will increase. New Mexico State University and other New Mexico colleges will see a negative affect financially.

It is very simple, less students’ equals less money for the university. Universities should be working to keep students, and increase enrollment; by doing so the university will obviously be making more money. Lowering the cost of textbooks will make college more affordable for students, benefitting the students, city, and university. Below is a table that displays the expenses for an out of state student, and an in state student. Undergraduate In-State Budget For NMSU DescriptionCost Tuition and Fees$5,400 Room and Board$8,038 Books and Supply$1,038

Personal Expenses $2,253 Transportation Expenses$1,734 Total$18,463 Undergraduate Out-of- State Budget for NMSU DescriptionCost Tuition and Fees$16,680 Room and Board$8,038 Books and Supply$1,038 Personal Expenses $2,253 Transportation Expenses$1,734 Total$29,743 The high cost of textbooks is an extensively deliberated problem without a popular solution. To ease the burden of textbook prices on students, we propose firm requirements for colleges and publishers to have regulations and legislation concerning the cost of textbooks.

Textbooks are a significant piece of the overall expense in higher education and must be regulated. When it comes to education we cannot let profit be a factor in obtaining an education at a public University. Publishers should have to promote conventional textbooks, which are repeatedly economical, and unbundle materials like workbooks and CD’s that are normally wrapped up with textbooks, which increase the cost, even more. They should have to make their textbooks’ wholesale prices. Make transparent the revision dates of earlier editions, and a summary of the significant content revisions.

Make available supplementary formats, such as e-books, paperback books or unbound books in which products are available in all. There is a National Higher Education Opportunity Act that was put into action July 1, 2010 that does implementing a few of this regulation on colleges and publishers. In the article Results for Students may see some gains through new textbook rules: rules provide greater transparency on pricing and restrict publishers from bundling books with supplemental materials.

The author Dervarics writes “With college textbooks costing an estimated average of $900 a year, student and consumer groups say new federal rules taking effect this summer could generate savings for low-income students in the years ahead. ”(Dervarics 2010) the article information on the act is a good start to the solution to this problem. Colleges should have to include lists of the necessary and recommended materials for each course in their published catalogs.

Also Professors should be required to make reading lists available in time for students to shop around and find the most affable price. In addition the institute should set up advisory committees focusing on textbook expenses to try and create campus specific solutions and publicize heavily on the options that student have in finding textbooks. Students if educated and informed properly would then have plenty of options in finding the proper textbook materials needed to do well.

If Publishers and Colleges can give their target consumer (College Students) what they want which is affordable and reasonable priced textbooks, it would help to create a more attainable cost for higher education, affording more students the ability to attend, become more successful in class and obtaining a college degree. In conclusion there are many solutions to the problem of rising textbook costs. Some obvious solutions to the rising prices are the elimination of supplemental materials such as CD-ROMS and access codes which have been deemed unessential by many college students.

More can be done in the way of regulating industry practices, like making edits and “new” material in books more transparent to the consumer. Regulations must be put in place to control prices of books to improve fair profits. We would like colleges and universities to consider options like custom editions priced lower, and things like non-profit bookstores introduced to campuses to insure fair pricing. By lowering textbook prices public institutions become more attractive to both parents and students. More options such as rental websites and rental facilities at college bookstores should be available to students.

Regulation must be made to insure that bookstores do not put profits in front of educational success. By making these books more affordable we may be able to lower college dropout rates and help reduce student loan debt for college students. By doing this we may be able to help stimulate the economy by reducing graduate debts and enabling these students to secure credit to buy homes, vehicles, and other property. This will bring the state more money in taxes and improve the lives of students. We must lower textbook costs and regulate the money hungry practices of the publishing industry.

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