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Why Textbooks Cost So Much

(and why used books are a good alternative)

Ok, so the clothes are unpacked, you've called your friends to say you’re in town, and the CD collection is arranged on the shelf by mood: peppy, angry, mellow and so on. You stand and look among your possessions in the newly acquired domain for a moment, knowing that for the next nine months that THIS is your castle and you are the king! But, your majesty, something is gnawing at have forgotten something...but what? Oh yeah! It's time to sign up for your semester classes and get the books for each class.

Grabbing the most stylish jacket or T-shirt (after all, one must look good when not knowing what in the world they need for books), you register your classes at the appropriate offices and head off to the bookstore. At the store, what you see makes your heart almost stop for a few moments: your textbooks will cost more than a car payment! Two car payments even! Why do textbooks cost so much?

A Number of Factors Combine to Result in High Textbook Prices

One reason for the high cost may be specialization. Another reason: some professors want their students to purchase their own research books, which are usually under contract through a publisher in much lower numbers than what may be found at a mainstream bookstore. And further, limited edition printings required by some courses, may cost more because the press run is smaller than what is normally done by large publishers. Also, some universities, although diverse in their programs, have set curricula every few years, and have set a listing of special titles students must purchase for each class. And within these set curricula are several text listings that stay in the reading list for one to ten years at a time.

Using Used Books to Lower Your Textbook Bill

Books can range in pricing anywhere from $10.00 to over $100.00, and the books are not necessarily hardback editions either. Depending upon the length, how in-depth the reading material is, and the subject matter, new textbook prices can make many rethink their majors several times over their college careers. It definitely cuts into the pizza money that first few weeks! Many students are looking towards used books to keep their expenses lower, or at the very least to be able to spread their book purchases out so that their pocketbooks don't suddenly cause a hip problem due to the sudden change in weight-loss on one side.

Requesting an immediate reading list required by professors is a grand start toward getting your hands on your textbooks. Take a look at the reading schedule to see which textbook or textbooks will be used first and how much time will pass before using each book, as some classes will use one text the first half of the semester and then another later on in the year. In this case, you can stretch your dollars and hold off on purchasing the book that won’t be used later (just be careful because your choices for available used books may depreciate greatly by this time).

Once your reading lists are compiled, take a look at the bookstore for any used books. Students from former years turn in or sell back their books; glad to be rid of the extra packing weight or usually books they do not need towards their majors. Used books can be up to more than ½ the price off of new textbooks. Aside from price, used textbooks often have written notations from past students, which some may find as an added benefit for study assist. Re-using used books also means reducing waste materials created from new book production.

Keep spirits high and get ready to order that first slice of pizza. Used books make your life and the lives of many others, much more affordable and easier.


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