OPINION: Sometimes you have to buy the textbook
Published: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 10, 2013 15:01
I am that student who places extreme confidence in my “winging it” skills at the beginning of each semester. When the teacher discusses the textbook required for the class on the first day of school, I automatically weigh out in my head whether or not I can skip buying the reading material. Questions that go through my mind include, “Will the information be covered in lecture? Will the teacher post notes on Canvas? Can I still pass the class without the textbook?” If the answer is yes to any of these, I usually find myself skipping a trip to the bookstore.
However, there are those rare moments when my heart sinks as I realize there is no way I can make it through the course without buying the dreaded textbook. In these instances, I still opt for buying used or searching the Internet for the cheapest edition on Amazon or eBay. My motto for all shopping habits carries through to buying necessities: Never pay full price for anything.
I had a class last semester that was one of those “buy the book or fail” kind of courses. I showed up to class confident that I could get through by only taking notes, but left downhearted after the instructor informed the class that the textbook was extremely necessary. She said all tests and assignments would be given through the accompanying e-companion. So, I relinquished my “no-textbook” policy and purchased the materials — and of course, having a digital disc included, buying used was not an option this time.
A semester later, I’ve never once popped the CD into my disc drive. Turns out, the teacher never figured out how to set up the e-companion with our class. Now I’m stuck with a textbook and CD that I never used, never will use and can’t sell during textbook buyback.
Now that I’ve aired that grievance, it brings up one more bone I have to pick: textbook buyback.
It’s a great concept — students can sell their used textbooks for some extra cash — but there are a few problems with the system. Half the time I find they only give me a fraction of what I paid for the book, and the other half of the time, they won’t buy it back at all since a brand new edition just came out and apparently the old version just won’t do anymore. Frankly, I don’t see why something as age old as math and science would change enough to warrant a new textbook edition. To me, it sounds like the authors just rearrange the page numbers a little bit so that poor starving college students won’t be able to use the same book twice.
Obviously the publishers know where to make their money. Book prices are rising as fast as tuition, and between them both, students have a hard time making it out of school without a mountain of debt on their shoulders. Is that any way to send us, the future of America, out into the world?
So now that I’ve analyzed my loathing for textbooks — the root of all college evil — I’ll just plan my trip to the bookstore to sell my old ones for pennies and buy new ones for hundreds. But this semster, I’ll be back in class, looking for ways to beat the system before the first week is up and those hardbacks are nonrefundable.
Tmera Bradley is the senior news writer for The Statesman and a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.