Textbook prices draw attention from university

Abby Taylor

Staff Writer

At the faculty and staff convocation on Aug. 9, Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr. said that, on average, students spend about $1,200 a year for textbooks.

“I went over to the bookstore, and I went through all the texts that we require students to read,” Hawkins said. “I became curious about what was the most expensive textbook that we require at Troy University.

“I went through the stacks, and I found a book that costs $432,” Hawkins said. “The title of that $432 textbook was ‘The Cornerstones of Cost Management.’ ”

According to the bookstore’s website, “the Cornerstones of Cost Management” textbook costs $431.80 new.

“A lot of professors require the students to buy the books, but they don’t really require the students to read the books,” Hawkins said.

A survey recently conducted by CampusBooks.com shows statistics on how many students owe student loans, how many students work while in school and how many textbooks, on average, a student purchases.

According to the survey, “the average cost of a college textbook is $84.14 and the average student spends an outrageous $488 per semester on 5.8 books.”

“I will probably buy my textbooks from Barnes and Noble next semester because it’s easier and more convenient,” Haley Mixon, a senior secondary collaborative education major from Millbrook, said, referring to the on-campus bookstore.

“I don’t want to have to wait for it, but if I have more than one book to buy, I might look into something else, but I only had one book to buy this semester.”

When purchasing textbooks, students are typically given the option at checkout to buy or rent the textbook new or used.

“Students are highly cost-conscious when purchasing textbooks,” the CampusBooks.com survey said. “Two out of three purchase used textbooks, and 55 percent rent textbooks each semester.”

Barnes and Noble recently introduced a new price-matching tool to help students who are seeking to save on textbooks. This resource is used to compare prices to competitors, and the difference in price will be refunded back to a student if the book is purchased from Amazon or BN.com.

According to an email sent to Troy students on Aug. 12, Barnes and Noble will price-match the exact textbook. A textbook is eligible for price match only if it is in stock on a competitor’s website.

A second email, sent on Aug. 15, said price matching would only be valid through the first week of classes.

The Trop attempted to contact Aliza McGee, Barnes and Noble store manager, but she was unavailable for comment.

Mixon said that she felt the price matching tool would be nice, but the textbooks on Barnes and Noble’s website are cheaper.

“I like the new price matching tool, but maybe they could have the same price in store as they do online,” Mixon said.

Anna Seabury, a junior physical education major from Calera, did not buy her textbooks from Barnes and Noble. Instead, she purchased all of her books from Amazon because they were cheaper.

“The bookstore is expensive,” Seabury said. “It’s easier to just buy them online because the prices are so much better.”

Seabury explained that she prefers to just buy from Amazon rather than go through the price matching process that Barnes and Noble offers.

“Why not just buy from Amazon to begin with?” she said. “It’s just easier to buy online from Amazon, instead of having to go to the bookstore, then look up the prices, then buy it from the bookstore, and then go back to the bookstore to do the price match and get the refund.”

When comparing competitors’ prices with the bookstores prices, Seabury said there is a major difference.

“I bought a textbook online for $6.31, but in the bookstore they were asking $129 for it,” Seabury said. “I also bought a book for $24.26 online, but in the bookstore it would’ve cost me $82.

Abigail Shy, a freshman biomedical sciences major from Dothan, said that she purchased most of her books from the bookstore but had looked into other, more affordable websites for her previous textbook.

“Nearly 66 percent of students have opted out of buying a textbook due to the cost,” the CampusBooks survey said. “Students use creativity to overcome the lack of a textbook, primarily searching content online or sharing textbooks with friends.”

Students are finding other ways and sources to get their textbooks at a lower price.

There are several Facebook groups such as Troy Books BUY, SELL, TRADE and Textbook Exchange, which allow students to post textbooks they have for sale or are searching for.

The seller creates a post on the page, and the price is left up to his or her discretion.

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