Opinion

The conspiracy of over-priced textbooks

Even though it already costs you an arm and a leg to take classes here, sometimes it seems like it also costs you your soul for the books needed for those classes.

Being forced to pay the astounding price of textbooks can sometimes be a demoralizing way to start the semester, even before you take your first exam. It can be seen on the face of every college student leaving the bookstore with three bags of books and nothing left in their wallet.

On the one hand, I suppose that we cannot truly blame the textbook vendors, or whoever it is that really profits from robbing students of two months’ wages. When it comes down to it, it is just the simple idea of supply and demand: Students must have the book for class and will buy it at any cost, so those that sell the books can jack up the prices and still sell them.

On the other hand, it just seems wrong. Seeing as how a majority of college students survive off of Ramen noodles and cold pizza, it is not like we have a couple hundred dollars just lying around to drop on books every semester.

If knowledge is power, then it seems that the ones who really have the power are those who force us to pay ridiculously high prices to gain the knowledge.

Throughout my years in college, I have found several ways to get around the conspiracy of overpriced textbooks. One of the most effective ways of bypassing the system is buying used books directly from other students online. This usually lowers the cost of my books considerably, as it takes out the bookstore as the middle man and I can shop around for the best price.

In addition to public Web sites where you can buy and sell all over the world, our own student government has implemented a few online resources that I am sure are not used enough. With Web sites like CaneBooks.com, you can buy and sell with people right here on campus.

I have found that selling my old textbooks online is also a major money saver. Instead of getting a “half back guarantee,” I can often get almost my entire money’s worth back when I sell used books online. Plus, it helps other students and keeps the cycle going.

Although buying and selling books does take extra time and effort to search for good prices, ship your books and receive them in the mail, it has significantly lowered the price of my textbooks every semester. Sometimes it just takes a little creativity to look somewhere other than the campus bookstore and avoid paying for overpriced textbooks.

Perhaps if students stopped allowing themselves to be overcharged for textbooks then they would have to lower those ridiculously high prices. If students started supplying each other with the textbooks they need, such a change would demand attention from textbook vendors on every college campus.

Kendra Moll is a junior majoring in psychology and religious studies. She is enjoying the cool weather and may be reached at k.moll@umiami.edu.

January 24, 2008

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The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.