Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Textbook Prices - Are They SERIOUS?

Courtesy Google Image

So, yesterday Ben went to buy his textbooks for this semester. I'm no fool (shut up!), so I knew that it wasn't going to be cheap.

Get this.

My oldest son is taking five 3 credit courses and one 1 credit course this semester. He is taking a full load at the local community college, trying to get in as a transfer student to JMU next fall. He needed five books for these classes. Even with renting three of them, the total cost for the semester was $608.80.

That's six hundred eight dollars and eighty cents. For one semester. For books.

Where the hell do these people get off???

While lots of people are self-publishing right to e-books and selling them for 99 cents or $2.99, the publishers of my son's Spanish textbook believe their book is worth $230.66. The other one he had to buy because there was no rental available cost $235.25. That's $465.91 for two books. TWO BOOKS! Is anyone hearing me???

Rental prices aren't much better. To rent his history book for the semester was $41.67. I am looking at the receipt in front of me and can't tell what the other subjects were, but the rentals on the other two were $62.04 and $39.14. These are books that have to be returned at the end of the semester to the bookstore or he gets charged for the full price. Thank God for rentals, but these are the prices that I believe the books should actually cost. You know, like to actually buy them.

I guess college textbooks is the one place that the dodgy, stuffy old publishers know they have you by the proverbial short hairs. You've already paid your tuition and to pass your classes, you need the books. At just under $2,100 for 16 credits, the community college is obviously a bargain and I am not complaining about the tuition costs. I want my kids to get their education and this transfer degree program is fantastic, because they can get their general education requirements out of the way at a fraction of the price of a four year university and only need two years at regular "big school" prices.

Any way you look at it, college is expensive. Virginia has announced tuition increases for the past two years straight. With a child in his second year of higher education now and two more coming up behind him, you can bet the word "college" sends us into screaming hysterics. Well, just me. Justin doesn't really do screaming hysterics or get upset when we have to spend money on things like educating our children.

I just keep looking at this receipt for Ben's books and thinking that if anyone ever decides to write their own textbook for the class that they are teaching and self-publish it on an e-reader for, say, $25, that professor is going to be unbelievably rich. And those publishers who are gouging us for books that our kids will only read once and then never use again will be out of business. If that happens while one of my kids is in college, I will be laughing all the way to the bank.

$608.80. Get over yourselves! 



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