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Conflicts behind New College Textbook Crisis

The prices of new college textbooks haven’t ceased to rise in the last few years, forcing thousands of students nationwide to spend a small fortune on their education. For students confronted with scarce budget situations, the ongoing increase of college textbooks prices represents another serious impediment in continuing and completing their studies, the expensive nature of courseware materials requiring the average student to invest even more money in order to graduate from the educational institution of choice.

Although the school year is about to commence, faculty chairmen and government representatives are still negotiating a series of possible solutions for the present college textbook crisis. While students nationwide are currently preoccupied with saving enough money for the coming school year, the competent parties that have promised to put an end to the continuously rising textbook prices phenomenon by the beginning of the first semester are still far from reaching a consensus. Disturbed by the poor implication of the government and ministry of education in solving the problem, students have even tried to take matters on their own, initiating various campaigns and programs aimed at bringing down the costs of curriculum-required college textbooks and other topical study materials.

Student campaigners have primarily blamed textbook publishers for generating and sustaining the phenomenon, accusing them of charging exaggerated prices and regularly printing new editions even when not necessary. Students have even sustained the fact that publishers are actually trying to eliminate the used-textbooks market by regularly re-editing the existing study materials. However, all the programs initiated by students have failed, all the specific campaigns being rejected or ignored by the competent authorities. The American Association of Publishers has countered the students’ initiatives, accusing them of exaggerating the proportions of the crisis and claiming that the average yearly costs of college textbooks don’t exceed the margin of 5, instead of the 0 initially approximated sum.

In an attempt to discriminate themselves, publishers have blamed the faculties for the high costs of college textbooks, arguing that it’s the professors who require new and constantly updated textbook editions. In turn, faculties have denied these claims, adding even more confusion to the problem. Faculty chairmen have replied that it would be unnecessary to demand updated editions for courseware materials that have remained unchanged for more than 20 years, as in the case of subjects such as first-year chemistry or calculus. Thus, faculty leaders have rejected all the accusations forwarded by textbook publishers.

While at present most parties are preoccupied with blaming each other, very few officials are actually struggling to come up with decent solutions for the high prices of college textbooks. In an attempt to reduce the proportions of the new textbook crisis, high educational institutions such as Princeton University have initiated a series of specific programs that are considered to be an efficient, but only temporary solution to the college textbooks problem: the university will begin selling downloadable college textbooks in PDF format at about 70 percent of existing print copies. Several other campuses have decided to adopt the same solution, currently focusing on including textbook renting, lending, exchanging, as well as buy-back programs for students.

About the Author: So if you want to find out more about textbooks and especially about college textbooks, follow these links, you will also find information for the Dutch versions - studieboeken.

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