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Inquiring Minds:Buying books leaves students broke

Students are pulling everything but extra cash out of their pockets these days. The culprit: inflated textbook costs.

According to the Washington Post, textbook prices are on the rise with no leveling in sight. The Post reported students can expect to pay an average cost of $102.44 for just one textbook.

The statistics are alarming. According to a February article published by U-Wire, textbook prices have increased four times the rate of inflation since 1994.

In a study released last week by the various state Public Interest Research groups, textbooks are costing students an average of $900 per academic year.

Frequent new editions and unnecessary extras, like CD-ROMS and Infotrac subscriptions, dramatically increase the market price as much as 45-47 percent.

Fingers should not be pointed to the college bookstore, and the Waltonian editors are in no way endorsing a boycott. However, someone should draw evil demon ears on the publishers.

By the choice of publishers, the useless and sometimes corny supplemental materials are added, driving up cost.

By the choice of publishers, new textbook editions are published every three years instead of the normative five. According to a study done by the California Student Public Interest Group, new editions are published more frequently, even if content remains the same.

By the choice of publisher representatives, more affordable versions are not brought to the attention of college stores and the professors who choose course material for their classes.

We understand changes need to be made to our tomes of knowledge, and they should be as up-to-date as possible.

However, professors and students should be able to find out what changes have occurred in the new editions to avoid forcing students to buy a $100 new edition that was made for a simple misspelling or for more eye-catching graphics.

As students, we recognize that campus stores offer valuable services to the student population because they ensure that the books necessary for higher education are available to students. In many cases, campus stores give back to the community through aid programs.

However, the hefty prices of books are not weighing on the minds of merely the students who need them, but also on congressional representatives who want to make higher education affordable to the masses.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said at a recent press conference that he is deeply concerned about the rising costs of books and that students need them cheaper, or they risk losing a fundamental part of their education. Schumer said that he plans on introducing a $1,000 federal tax deduction for the price of books.

Meanwhile, as the legislation winds through the quagmire of democratic processes, students, adminstrators and, yes, even college bookstores can actively do something to help offset the price of books.

Student groups across the country have developed online book-selling services which function much like eBay. One site started by the California PIRG is www.campusbookswap.com.

If students can get addicted to facebook, they can also help each other save money and minimize book-buying frustrations.

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