Faculty take charge toward lowering textbook prices

Rakshak Adhikari

Staff Writer

Bret Woods, an assistant professor of ethnomusicology, has used the library’s course reserve to provide textbook references for all his classes ever since he started teaching at Troy in 2012.

When a textbook is put in reserve at the library, students can check it out for two hours to do their assignments.

“I want to allow all students in my classes to have an equal platform for accessing the information in their reading assignments,” Woods said. “I don’t think that financial resources should play a role in whether students of any educational institution have the opportunity to learn and grow.”

According to a report published in 2016 by the U.S. Public Research Interest Group, a nonprofit organization, the cost of textbooks has increased by 76 percent in the last decade — over four times the inflation rate.

The report blames the monopoly of five publishers in the textbook market and the lack of consumer choice in buying the textbooks.

While there might not be a single remedy to this problem, there certainly are steps that can be taken by both students and institutions to ease the financial burden associated with buying textbooks.

LaKerri Mack, an assistant professor of political science and a Chancellor’s Fellow for 2017, worked with the chancellor’s office and other Chancellor’s Fellows to seek lower-cost textbook options for students..

“As a Chancellor’s Fellow, I was selected to attend (the) Open Education Resource conference in Richmond, Virginia,” Mack said. “We did inter-college meetings and town hall meetings to generate awareness about the use of open education resources.”

Open-license textbooks can be used and distributed free of charge, and their copies can be found online free of cost.

According to Mack, the political science department has already started using freely available open resources in some of its classes.

Kenneth Roblee, chair of the mathematics department, has also been using open-license textbooks for some of his classes since 2013.

Roblee said the cost of textbooks and educational materials is an important issue that is always taken into account by the mathematics department before a textbook is assigned for a course.

“There are two committees within the math department that work to minimize the cost of textbooks,” he said.

Roblee said the committees would meet with publishers to discuss low-cost options for books used by the mathematics department.

According to Jordan Wood, a senior comprehensive general science education major from Andalusia, buying used books from upperclassmen is a good way to save money.

“There are a few Facebook groups exclusively dedicated to buying and selling books where the prices are much cheaper,” Wood said.

Troy University Textbooks is the Facebook group predominantly used by students to trade, buy and sell textbooks among themselves.

The bookstore below the Troy Public Library on Elm Street also sells used books for low prices, according to Rosalyn Baughn, a Troy University alumnus and  volunteer at the library.

The library bookstore has a large collection of novels and a modest collection of nonfiction and textbooks, most of which are priced at a dollar or lower.

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