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Do you think college textbook prices have gotten out of control?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on March 10, 2007

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Photo of Sarah Tucker

“Definitely. It’s the biggest scam in the country. I’ve paid $100 for books that were an inch thick and weren’t even hardbound. And they won’t lower the prices, because they know people will pay.”

Photo of Chris Wolfe

“Yeah. This semester it was $400. They’re going to have to change something, because everyone is going online.”

Photo of Alicia Williams

“Yes. I think they have, because you pay so much for them and you don’t even get half of it back - if you get anything at all.”

Photo of Joe Simecka

“I’d say so. They’re way overpriced. It’s like a hundred bucks for a book you might only use a couple of times. Now teachers just put up a PowerPoint with all the information you need to know anyway.”


Kelly Cline 11 years, 2 months ago

I go to Half Price Books on 23rd street. They have great prices!! If you call they will go look for the book for you. It's a GREAT store and they also have music and movies.

CindiCat 11 years, 2 months ago

Don't EVEN get me started on this one. It's a SCAM pure and simple.

You pay mega buck$ for a book, barely use it if at all. Try to sell it back...uh, no. Either you get a pittance for it or nothing.....cos they are gonna be using a NEWER book next time.

If you can find a "used" a little bit of money maybe.

This is from a MOM's point of view.....I have a daughter in college. I have had the pleasure (?) of being with her when she is hunting for and buying books. Not pretty let me tell ya ;)

sunflower_sue 11 years, 2 months ago

Textbook prices have always been out of control.
Enjoy the beautiful day ya'll.

jonas 11 years, 2 months ago

I go online, now, when I even buy my textbooks at all. The manufacturers or the sellers in the retail stores believe that they have a captive market that they can just ride however they want, but that's going to change quickly as on-line options get more widely known and accessible.

mom_of_three 11 years, 2 months ago

I am taking classes at KU, and I needed 5 books for a seminar class. I bought my books on-line and saved a ton, even with shipping. Now, one of my books is an older version, but it's in great shape. Now, if I needed textbooks, I am not sure if I could find those online, but I certainly would try.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 2 months ago

"It's a SCAM pure and simple."

There is a false perception that textbook prices are high because "the man" is exploiting us. That's not the root of the problem. The problem is: the used book market. Authors and publishers of textbooks only make money selling a new book for the first three years or so. By then, the market is so saturated by the availability of used books that the publisher is only selling 10% of what they sold the prior year. So the publisher gets the author on the phone and says "if you want to keep making money on this, you need to revise your textbook". That's why a simple MATH 101 textbook ends up in it's 7th edition (as though there had been "advancements" made in algebra that required major revisions).

We all clamor for used books, but if congress would make used books illegal (yeah, right), your books would cost 1/3 of what they cost today.

ohjayhawk 11 years, 2 months ago

I'm with sue on this one... textbooks have always been out of control. I'm also with Cindi... even if you can sell your books back, they pay you pennies on the dollar for what they will resell it for next time.

Sigmund 11 years, 2 months ago

You almost would think the Professors are getting a cut of the action. :)

Bill Chapman 11 years, 2 months ago

Four of the seven books I needed for my first year classes had to bought either from the college or new due to the fact that they were written by the instructor (or the TA's instructor) of the class. All four of the books cost me $575. Only two of the books could be sold back - for a total of $50. The other two were spiral bound combination workbook and instructional which had to be turned in to the instructor for grading about every 2 - 3 weeks. Try selling back book that has been written in (not the normal highlighting - I'm talking problems with answers, essays, etc.). The other three books were last years' but there was the option to buy the "new and improved" version for two to three times as much as the used book. Sure thing - I'm just made of money!!! I'll phone grandpa moneybags and ask him for the funds.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 2 months ago

"textbooks have always been out of control"

No, not until about 30 years ago. Back then, the most expensive book was $10. The upward spiral began with the used market. Now its made worse by the ease of teaching on-line and the way that profs can make journal articles available without having to deal with a lot of copywrite issues and photocopying.

Mike Blur 11 years, 2 months ago

Actually, Siggy, there's several profs at KU that do write the textbook for the course! And a lot of them are the real-deal, hardbound books, not just Kinko's specials.

Of course they're getting a cut of that action. It would seem unethical that an instructor can compel students to buy a textbook written by that instructor, but you realize that 1) you're going to pay a lot of $$$ anyway and 2) the instructor does seem more emotionally and intellectually invested in teaching from a textbook he or she actually wrote!

unite2revolt 11 years, 2 months ago

The only thing Chuck Norris would share with Osama Bin Laden is a Roundhouse kick to the face. Chuck Norris celebrates his birthday on this day by choice because it is a reminder to Osama Bin Laden he must remain in hiding or get roundhouse kicked in the face. Chuck Norris was really born on Sunday last week, but when he came out of the womb, he roundhouse kicked the doctor into next week, where he signed the Chuck Norris Birth Certificate. It is now framed and hung in honor behind bulletproof-glass at the Alamo in Texas. It serves as a reminder to all Americans that when Osama Bin Laden emerges from hiding Chuck Norris will be there to deliver a roundhouse kick to his face. Chuck Norris would use his skills as a tracker to hunt down Osama bin Laden, but he is currently on a one man mission in North Korea to prevent them from launching nuclear missles at Hawaii, he is accomplishing this one roundhouse kick at a time.

Crossfire 11 years, 2 months ago

Tex-Book Publishers, Had better know the truth of wrong from right, and start selling Tex-Books cheap. 'Cause the eyes of a ranger are upon them. May they develop lockjaw, and get dragged to death?

jonas 11 years, 2 months ago

oldenuff: That's an interesting economic phenomenon you described, and it seems like it could be a reality. It bears consideration, but while it effects re-sell value which is why you get screwed when you do buy-back, it doesn't seem like it would actually influence the first selling price. Also, it seems like if that were the case, then all books would be overpriced.

Crossfire 11 years, 2 months ago

What about e-books. Some high schools are using them.

Maybe KU could be the first...

sourpuss 11 years, 2 months ago

I very rarely bought any textbooks during my pursuit of degrees. For starters, every book assigned by a class is on reserve in the library, so it is basically always available for free. A quick trip to the library to read and take notes, and you've saved a lot of money. I would only buy books that I knew would be useful to me later (well-respected books in my major field, for example). Now that I am in graduate school, I have fewer books than any of my peers. My advisor thinks it is a wonder that I do not own more books, but I just use the library. I don't want to spend the money on them, and I don't want them sitting around my house, and I definitely don't want to move them from apartment to apartment.

Sure, textbooks are expensive, but if they are not worth the money to you, avail yourself of the library and pocket the money. However, if you want the convenience of having the book at the beck and call, then you're out the money. However, it is a well-known fact that you pay for convenience.

wildcat86 11 years, 2 months ago

Definately! College textbook prices are ridiculous!!! I hate the fact that I have to pay so much for just 3 books. Total cost of these three books were $265. And not to mention when you go back to sell the books to the bookstore once the semester is over, the bookstore will buy an $89 book back for only $28. IT IS DEFINATELY A SCAM and a rip-off!

kurt13 11 years, 2 months ago

i haven't bought books at the bookstores for about the last 3 semesters. i just get mine from,, ebay, or half price bookstore. and i save a TON of money.

i stopped buying books here after one of my professors made a "book" out photo copies of articles they had written and other relevent info for the class which was made at kinkos(it said so on the cover) and the bookstores charged us $90 for this "book". it wasn't even half an inch thick!

shop online. you won't be so sore afterwards. i mean broke...

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