10.30.18 Overpriced Textbooks

The LSU Barnes and Nobles sits on 2 Union Square, Baton Rouge on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018.

Students across the country may have very different experiences, but one thing remains the same on nearly every campus: the textbook prices are outrageously high and are only getting higher.

Here at LSU, a chorus of complaints can be heard each year as students funnel into the bookstore to buy their course readings. Students visit this store and spend countless dollars every year, despite knowing that the cost is outrageous.

As activists for textbook reform in our political communication capstone course, we spoke to many LSU students about textbook costs. Though every person had his or her unique story, all students seem fed up with the status quo.  

Many students are lucky to have parents that support them, while others aren’t as fortunate. Some students take out loans to buy books, while others eliminate lesser necessities in their yearly budgets to cover the costs. Some students go without their required course readings altogether.

When we spoke to senior finance major Hunter Dugas, he said he never buys the overpriced books, as it’s “really just a waste of money anyway … you can find the material elsewhere.” Although this method may be feasible to pass, students aren’t getting the most out of a course when they take this approach. If textbooks were available at a more affordable price, then students would willingly purchase them to better understand the course material.

Our group found several viable options that could help to assist students burdened by high costs. Troy H. Middleton Library's E-textbook initiative and McGraw Hill’s Inclusive Access provide students with an affordable online textbook solution, which would be accessible online through their Moodle pages.

Middleton’s E-textbook program is already operational through LSU’s library. Professors can check Middleton’s website to see if course materials are offered for free and, if so, the e-book is directly assigned to student Moodle pages.

Students can check for e-textbooks if professors fail to assign them through Middleton’s website. If a book isn’t already offered through Middleton, the library can purchase it, within some publishing restrictions. According to library representatives, there are currently over 250,000 books available. This program is still growing and needs awareness and support from both students and faculty.   

Most textbook publishers offer a system similar to McGraw Hill’s Inclusive Access, which allows professors to assign e-books directly to student Moodle pages. Students have the option to charge these e-books to their fee bill, at a price far less than what is offered by the bookstore. LSU won’t adopt this plan unless students and faculty encourage administrators to coordinate with book publishers.

To better explain this prospect, our group has compiled a comprehensive research document, showing all the benefits of this very necessary change. You can access it online at: https://www.scribd.com/document/402545131/Affordable-Texts.

Providing a quality education with equal learning opportunities for every student should be the priority of every college and university in the U.S. This ideal will only be possible when affordable textbook purchasing options become a reality.

Parker Hall, Christian McCoy, Brooke McCulley, Eli Anderson and Harper Street are political communication seniors.

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