The bookstore blues

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Textbook costs can be truly ridiculous

Textbook costs can be truly ridiculous | Photo by Daniella Okezie

The buying of textbooks is a story not foreign to any university student.

In fact, most of us went through it just last week while watching the numbers in our bank accounts roll back.

We helplessly stood in line, waiting for our financial execution.

Students at Wilfrid Laurier University are forced into buying horribly expensive textbooks assigned to them by their professors.

So why is it that our parents paid around $20 for the kind of textbook we now pay $150 for?

Can it be justified by higher printing costs?

The answer is no.

The consumer price index for university textbooks has risen 150 per cent, while the CPI for recreational books has risen a meager 0.6 per cent.

So the argument that textbooks are more expensive now because of printing costs is false and deceiving. The problem is the way in which market economics for textbooks has created a “cartel” in the form of publishers who abuse the existing conditions to their advantage.

The professors assign certain books for their students which they have no choice but to purchase if they want to attain a passing grade.

Prices are set by the publishers based on competition and the guarantee students are locked into buying their books.

Such outrageous prices hurt students not only financially, but academically as well.

Indeed, in an effort to cut expenses, some students choose not to buy textbooks with a conviction they can overcome the lack of course material on their own.

In doing so, they instantly detract themselves from the educational experience they should be receiving and fall to an inevitable disadvantage.

As taught in my intro to economics course, when prices are too high, other forms of actors will enter the market and push prices down.

This can be seen through the used textbook movements such as the Accepted WLU Facebook pages.

Although students do find some success through this avenue, publishers are trying to address this loop hole by releasing different editions nearly every year or by attaching access codes with the books that only a brand new one can provide.

For now, the only reasonable solution would be professors are urged by the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union to be mindful of the price tag attached to the textbooks they prescribe.

Allowing students to use old editions of the textbook can also go a long way in aiding the situation and allowing the used textbook market to sustain itself.

When professors constantly assign books from the textbook cartel, it is then that the students are trapped and coerced into reaching deeper into their wallets, bank accounts and hearts.


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Serving the Waterloo campus, The Cord seeks to provide students with relevant, up to date stories. We’re always interested in having more volunteer writers, photographers and graphic designers.