They’re big and bulky, heavy and awkward, and overly priced, but textbooks are essential for most college courses.

       

Why do students spend hundreds of dollars a semester buying books, though? There has to be some alternative to carrying around several books in a backpack day after day.

   

 

At the Missouri State bookstore, a textbook for MTH 135, a general college algebra class, is priced at $101.50 for a used copy.

Why?

When buying traditional textbooks — either online or at a bookstore — the price is going to be high.

Not only are you paying for the book itself, but according to figures from the National Association of College Stores, textbook prices also include payments for the bookstore, shipping and handling, the publisher or publishing company, marketing for the textbook, the author, paper and printing, and then the publisher’s employees.

“I spent over $700 last semester buying my books through the bookstore,” said Alexandra Reed, a senior psychology student at Missouri State.

So when students purchase textbooks from bookstores, they need to realize that they aren’t just buying a book; they are paying these high prices to pay for every aspect that went into creating that book, which can be problematic for some college students.

“Even with used books, the pricing is crazy. It makes paying for college on my own that much more difficult,” said Reed.

A newer alternative to traditional textbooks is the use of digital textbooks or e-books. Students can easily download and access these books using tablets, Kindles and laptops and pay much less for the same exact book found in the bookstore.

Digital textbooks can be found online at dozens of sites. CourseSmart.com, as well as Amazon.com, has thousands of e-books at reasonable prices.

Michael Borich, a media professor at MSU, believes that digital textbooks are going to be the future for college students.

“Textbooks are still part of a last century oligarchy that enrich publishers at the expense of students — it’s a huge rip off that’s about to change,” said Borich.

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