Textbooks Expensive? Buy Them Elsewhere

The public furor over textbook prices shows no sign of halting, as students part with ever-larger sums for books. Before petitioning congress, all should take a look at the burgeoning number of private options for used and cheaper textbooks. Charlotte Allen pointed out several here this summer. Additional options continue to spring up.
– The Brown Daily Herald reports that Mocha, a private site offering class listings for the school now lists the prices of its required textbooks online. They link to Amazon book listings, enabling easy comparison.

– The Michigan Daily reports on another new school-specific service, mtextbooks.com

– Other options continue to emerge, as the Michigan Daily continues:

Another new site, Uloop.com, which was launched in 2007, provides various search features that allow users to locate a book, contact the seller and meet in person on campus to purchase the book.

According to Uloop co-founder Ryan MacCarthy, more than 4,500 University of Michigan students are registered on the site. Nationwide, more than 70,000 books have been bought and sold through the site. MacCarthy said the average used textbook on Uloop costs $37, a paltry price compared to the national average of $102 for a new textbook.

Sure, you could wait for Congressional hearings on Un-American textbook pricing. Or you could just spend that $37 somewhere other than the campus bookstore.

Anthony Paletta

Anthony Paletta is a freelance writer.

2 thoughts on “Textbooks Expensive? Buy Them Elsewhere

  1. Okay, here we go again with the all-to-common misunderstanding of textbook pricing. I agree that if you’re going to buy, the best prices are not at the campus bookstore. But please understand that it is the used book market that forces publishers to jack up their new prices and bring out frequent new editions in the first place. The publishers and authors do not make a penny from used book sales, so must make up their costs and a reasonable profit (none of us are getting rich from writing textbooks and the publishers are dying) on new sales only. Students buying new books are subsidizing their friends who buy used.
    I don’t know too many people who are willing to produce quality content for free, whether we’re musical artists or textbook writers. What we need is a new business model that takes the used book market out of the loop. A one-time download, like iPod, worked in the Napster case, and it will work here as soon as students are ready for it. As an author, I’d love to see this happen.

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