Staff Editorial: Brand new books just aren’t worth it

As you make your way to the bookstore with a handful of new syllabi and a pricey required reading list, get ready to say goodbye to your Christmas spending money and brace yourself for an overdraft fee from your checking account. The short trip to pick up your textbooks can quickly turn into a shopping nightmare, costing students hundreds of dollars.

The constant reprinting of new editions to include minor changes leaves students strapped for cash both at the beginning of the semester, when there are no half-price books available for some classes, and at the end of the semester when the bookstore refuses to buy back some books.

Too often the dream of getting cash back for that sociology book you never cracked vanishes when a new edition is printed every semester. As a result, your older book is worthless.

The dilemma this creates for the penny-pinching college student could occur less if teachers did not immediately jump to the newest edition just because it is available. Professors should evaluate the newer editions to see if substantial changes were made, and if they are significant enough to warrant the price increase it will cost some students.

For example, an introductory level political science class requires a book that outlines the basic functions of the American government. These fundamentals rarely change.  Some changes are historically distinct enough to warrant buying a new edition. The addition of a new diagram or the insertion of a meaningless chapter are minimal additions in the new edition that do not deserve such a ridiculous increase in price.

So professors, please exercise caution when switching the one-year-old but somehow outrageously outdated required textbook to a costly new edition. By asking students to purchase new and more expensive editions of these books could result in students borrowing a friend’s older edition or simply opting out of the required reading for the semester.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial staff.

January 20, 2010


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, Florida. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published in print every Tuesday.