Monday, May 2, 2011

Hawley Martin

April 27, 2011

Journalism 102 Project

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Lower Textbook Costs Shot Down

A bill to lower textbook costs proposed by Rep. Bob Evans was shot down earlier this year in the House Committee for reasons about which people can only speculate.

The proposed bill, Bill 158, would have lowered the cost of textbooks for college students in Mississippi, and thus increase chances for more students to attend college and increase productivity of students. With rising costs of textbooks, more people are discouraged from attending institutions of higher learning due to financial binds. In addition, those who do attend college often opt not to buy a textbook because of the high price. This decision leads to poor grades because the student does not have the necessary means for studying, and it makes students less inclined to go to class altogether, and grades suffer even more.

There are methods of lowering the educational costs. Two methods are unbundling and textbook rentals. Bundling is when a textbook comes with a pass code or CD to accompany the textbook for online homework and other assignments. Some teachers only require the student to purchase the pass code or CD and do not require the student to own a textbook. Many textbooks are available to rent for a much cheaper cost than as opposed to outright purchasing the textbook. This concept saves students money, but it is flawed.

It is cheaper to buy a used textbook and sell it back at the end of the year than to rent one. Richard Lowe of Rebel Bookstore defends this statement as he has in-depth experience with both options.

The requirement for the latest edition of textbooks also makes it impossible sometimes for student to buy a used textbook. Textbooks are revised and edited often from year to year, and a new textbook is significantly more expensive than a used one. The method of buying used textbooks is therefore often not an option. Much of the time, it is difficult or impossible to avoid paying an extremely expensive price for a textbook. It is for this reason that a bill to lower textbook costs would be particularly beneficial to students.

“I haven’t bought a few of my textbooks because of the ridiculous prices. I often struggle to borrow one from a friend, or I try to photocopy pages in order to study. Sometimes my grade suffers.” Freshman Conrad Helms said.

“I wasn’t aware that this bill was a reality. I can’t believe they didn’t pass it.” Sophomore Matt Loomis said.

The bill has come up more than once and has never made it out of the House Committee. Many proponents of the bill speculate that book sellers are to blame for negative feelings towards the bill which has lead to such poor progress.

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