Hear Ye, Hear Ye
Posted by isntshelovlei on August 18, 2010
Has anyone else noticed that all of a sudden textbook ISBN’s are actually posted on the school bookstores’ website? I no longer have to trek to campus in stealth-mode, iPhone 4 camera poised and ready, to snap pictures of those pesky little bar codes while the student employees are breathing down my neck trying to intercept me (once they even had the textbook section roped off “unless you are actually buying something”).
So what’s the deal?
Most of you have heard my frequent rantings about the school bookstore’s crack prices and my refusal to pay them—well the Higher Education Opportunity Act recently made that a little easier. New textbook provisions went into effect July 1, 2010; and you can find a pretty nice summary of them here.
First, it makes the professors (who actually select our textbooks) aware of how much we are paying. Textbook pricing was previously withheld from professors so many of them truly didn’t realize how much students are actually paying for their books. Professors can now (and hopefully will) take cost into consideration when selecting textbooks for their courses.
Second is the issue with “bundles” (don’t you just hate shrinkwrap?!?). More often than not, the stuff that comes in those packages you will barely (if ever) use and yet you have to pay an arm and a leg for them. I remember having a bundle for A&P that included about 7 books—we used 2 of them—and one of those was for an extra credit project. With the new regulations, the components of a bundle (including software such as CDs and DVDs) must also be sold separately as individual items. Don’t want the accompanying study guide (I rarely ever use them anyway)—then don’t buy it. School bookstore price cheaper for one book, but Amazon.com has the better deal for another?—then mix-and-match and buy accordingly.
And last but not least, schools are now supposed to have textbook lists posted the semester prior—not 2 weeks before the semester begins like they like to do now and then you’re left scrambling to find the books anyway and end up HAVING to buy them from the school bookstore because you can’t find them anywhere else. Now students will actually have time to bargain shop—”do their homework” so-to-speak.
Those rebellious little institutions who decide not to comply with the new regulations will be risking the student aid that they receive from the federal government.
There are other options. Renting textbooks (through rental companies such as Chegg.com or even through your own institution) also seems to be on the rise. I am also starting to see e-textbooks as required course material. And with the advent of e-readers such as the iPad and Kindle I hope that we’ll start to see more actual textbooks in these formats as well. I would love to be able to hold some of my 3,000-page textbooks in a neat little 1.5 lb package…
The idea is that all of this will help drive textbook prices down and/or make them more reasonable/competitive. At minimum, we as students will now have a little more control over our textbook purchases.
For some other great tips on reducing your textbook expenses check out Coupon Sherpa’s Your Complete Guide to Cheap College Textbooks. Happy shopping!