Published on February 13th, 2014 | by Bethany Schram
Book prices affect student grades
In a study conducted by The Untied States Public Interest Research Group, statistics show that high textbook prices affect student grades.
According to the survey, 94 percent of students who had avoided purchasing a textbook were concerned that doing so would hurt their grade in a course. More than half of the students in this survey felt a significant concern for their grade.
Adrienne Argote, sophomore, said that she has avoided buying an expensive book on numerous occasions.
“Sometimes I’ll wait until I really need a book to get it,” Argote said. “I can usually get by without some or work with a friend, but if it’s really expensive I’ll do anything I can to avoid spending the extra money.”
The study showed that 65 percent of students said that they had decided against buying a textbook because it was too expensive.
“I’m lucky that I’m an art major and we don’t need many books. I end up spending it on art supplies, but I’d rather do that than on a book that I won’t even need after a few weeks,” Argote said.
A summary published by PIRG said that because publishers keep costs high by publishing new editions and selling books bundled with software, students are forced to forgo book some important book purchases, simply because they cannot afford it.
Natalie Johnson, manager of the FSC Bookstore, says that during her time working there she has seen a rise in book prices.
“I think that probably in the last five years there has been a significant increase. Normally you would see an increase of $1 to $5 per book, but recently it’s been more like $10 to $30 increase per semester, so that’s huge,” Johnson said. “That’s coming from the publishers. What we pay sometimes it’s already $70 per book and our margins are already very small. We’re already paying a large dollar amount before it even gets to the shelf.”
Johnson said she really does not know why textbooks are so expensive.
“I have noticed that throughout the years that they’re more, but I really can’t pinpoint why,” Johnson said. “Maybe it has something to do with the law and they’re changing and updating more than the other courses. If you’re an English major or a communications major, your books may not be going to a new edition as fast as accounting and business.”
She said that accounting and biology books cost sometimes twice as much as other subjects. She also noted that they also happen to be the largest subject areas.
“It’s kind of a disadvantage for them. I kind of feel like that’s why because of our cooperate America and our laws and a lot of those things are changing constantly, so their books have to be upgraded more often than other majors,” Johnson said.
The PIRG survey results found that students want alternatives, especially textbooks that are available online. The bookstore has tried to accommodate this trend.
“If you walk around our textbook department, over 60 percent of our textbooks are rent-able and then on top of that, you can rent a new book and a used book so you’re going to get the savings if you get a used book and you’ll get more savings than renting a new book,” Johnson said. “We have stepped it up by renting twice or three times as many used books and renting books, so rental percentage has gone up, like 105 percent, so that gives you guys a savings upfront in advance.”
In the past, the school has given a stipend to freshmen who attended Scholars Weekend to help lessen the high price of books for new students. Johnson said that it really helped students, in her opinion, but she does not know if the school will continue it next semester.