|Causes and Solutions to teh High Cost of College Textbooks (standard:Editorials, 1690 words)|
|Author: Victor D. Lopez||Added: Jun 21 2013||Views/Reads: 1358/726||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|This brief article deals with some of the root causes that have resulted in college textbooks that can be higher than $200. Despite severe shake-ups in the industry and attrition over the past two decades, the cost of college textbooks keeps increasing an|
In a World Where Anyone Can Publish a Book Inexpensively, Why Does Your College Textbook Still Cost $200? Despite legislation at the federal level and in a growing number of states aimed at lowering the high cost of college textbooks, costs remain largely unaffected and students are still paying about $1,000 per year on average for their textbooks. Before continuing, I need to note that the reasons for the high cost of textbooks are numerous and fixing the problem is complicated for reasons that I will not delve into here. (For a thorough discussion of the issue, see my article “Legislating Relief for the High Cost of College Textbooks: a Brief Analysis of the Current Law and its Implication for Students, Faculty and the Publishing Industry” Journal of Legal Studies in Business, Vol. 15 (2009)). Rather, I will concentrate on what I consider to be the main factor: the marketing-driven push-model of textbook distribution that dominates the industry today. As the author of five law-related college textbooks who has been an academic for almost all of his professional career, this is an industry I have grown to know well. Common misconceptions to the contrary notwithstanding, neither publishers nor textbook authors are profiteering at the expense of students as most of the revenue from textbooks goes to expenses for their creation and distribution (including retailers' profits). The care and feeding of the masses of marketing reps required to push textbooks on faculty through constant contact that includes periodic office visits to college faculty to keep them abreast of new features, upcoming revisions, and new textbooks in their fields of interest is massively expensive. (And frankly more than a little annoying to those of us who do not welcome those frequent, uninvited intrusions into our office hours.) The textbook marketing model is very similar to the way life insurance is marketed--especially the really profitable type--whole life and universal life--where one-on-one, in-person marketing is the rule. (Although I sincerely doubt the sales reps rake in the 55% commissions on first-year premiums that insurance salespeople have traditionally made on the sale of whole-life life insurance from the major companies.) Sales reps have become incredibly adept at the care and feeding of the university faculty that they depend upon to adopt their books. As a faculty member, you need only ask and you shall receive large numbers of expensive textbooks for review and as desk copies once a title is adopted. This is just part of the cost of doing business. Some publishers go out of their way to involve faculty members at schools with large prospective or current adoptions in ongoing reviews of their current or upcoming titles for which faculty receive normally a small honorarium of $100 or so. Others are more aggressive and sponsor junkets to popular destinations like Las Vegas for "training sessions" on the use of their products to faculty members at institutions with large textbook adoptions. This particular practice was targeted by recent federal legislation as well as legislation in some states aimed at reducing the cost of textbooks, but it has not yet been completely eradicated. And faculty who are busy with their class preparation duties, their research agendas and their university and departmental service loads are usually only too happy to look only at the titles suggested/pushed by the sales representatives of the handful remaining major textbook publishers. The result is that most college faculty--including those who are truly interested in lowering the burden of the high cost of textbooks for their students--most often find themselves choosing among very expensive textbooks from at most two or three publishers happily provided for them by sales representatives who highlight the competing features and demonstrate the latest and greatest software, web-based features and video ancillaries intended to entice faculty to adopt their titles--and sometimes specifically intended to lock them in to the titles by offering proprietary software for homework management, grade keeping, and online classroom supplementation that is available only as long as the faculty member keeps adopting the publisher's titles. Other viable options exist, but the vast majority of faculty are not aware of them as there are no armies of solicitous salespeople pushing these on them on a constant basis. Lest I be misunderstood, I genuinely like the publishers' Click here to read the rest of this story (91 more lines)
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