Thursday, May 6, 2021

Editorial: Overpricing of books leading to illegal downloads

In case people haven’t noticed, being a college student is a pretty expensive undertaking. Students are not only worrying about getting good grades and having a fun time, but covering all their expenses becomes quite the endeavor.

As news editor Maggie McVey reported in this week’s publication, “Illegal textbook downloads increase as prices on the rise,” a large number of college students are resorting to illegally downloading their textbooks and course material as a way of cutting costs and figuring out a strategy for affording college.

The article reports that textbooks cost more than five times what they did roughly a decade ago, and one student said she was required to purchase a $200 statistics textbook. This has become commonplace. Cardinal Points estimates that journalism students at Plattsburgh State spend about $150-200 per semester, and that’s for a major that typically finds itself on the lower end of textbook costs when compared with other majors.

Cardinal Points does not encourage the engaging in illegal activities in any way, but can people really blame college students? Perhaps the most frustrating part about purchasing textbooks is when professors make them “required texts” on the syllabus and then limit their use to a handful of times during the semester.

Even worse is that books often become useless after one class. Instead of a major having a handful of core textbooks for students to use throughout much of their college career, too often are students asked to buy books that lose their usefulness after just a semester.

General education requirements are the worst, as most students aren’t taking more than one or two classes of each of math, science, English, history, etc. Even rented and used textbooks are expensive, and they don’t provide much of a discount at the College Store.

Furthermore, as general education classes usually aren’t of great interest to most students, they might be more inclined to skip out on spending money, which will hamper them academically and often lead them to poorer grades.

The problem is nothing is being done to help students pay their way through college. So what do you do?

If you steer clear of the criminal route, make use of online vendors such as Amazon. Compare prices between a number of websites in order to find the cheapest avenue for each book. If you have friends in your classes, look to split the costs and use of the textbook. Even better, those who know people who have taken a class before them can often buy or get textbooks that route, effectively passing on textbooks to the next class of students.

It might take a little extra work on the students’ part, but it might be worth it in the end. And who doesn’t like saving money?

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