By Harry Drasutis
When it comes to textbooks, it’s a money game. If you’re lucky, you’ll average spending $100 per textbook. Some textbooks can be over $300. In some cases, it is possible for the student’s books to cost more than tuition.
If students had to pay for textbooks and nothing else, college would be more affordable. However, in addition to textbooks, students may have to pay tuition, lab fees, transportation, rent, food and other costs of living.
Accounting professor Michael Granof, writing in 2007 for The New York Times, has an interesting idea about how colleges and textbook publishers could ease this financial burden. Granof’s idea would be for a publisher to license textbooks to a college directly in the form of an e-book; the college would then issue the textbook to students. The publishers would receive a fee per student using the textbook.
I agree with Granof.
If licensing textbooks were implemented, publishers wouldn’t have to print new editions so often, students would have access to more affordable textbooks, and textbook publishers could still profit.
Textbook publishers only make money the first time they sell the textbook. They don’t make money when a student buys the textbook used from the bookstore. In order for their business to profit, they say they must charge a very high price for the textbook when it is new.
Since they can only sell it once, they often choose to create a new edition of the book soon afterwards. This process basically renders the old textbooks useless.
If the textbooks were licensed, publishers wouldn’t have to charge such a high price, but their profit would continue. I believe they could get a longer shelf life out of the books.
Students would pay a negotiated fee. Granof uses an example of $15 per student. However, I believe that publishers would find this price unacceptable. Realistically, I think the price per student would have to be closer to $50 to $70 to keep all parties happy. I realize that $50 to $70 for a textbook isn’t cheap, but that price is still much cheaper than the current prices
The concept of being able to license products to colleges on a large scale has already been proven. Here, at Pensacola State College, everybody has access to Microsoft Office in and outside of school since its free for all students. Microsoft Office isn’t a cheap program. If licensing can work in this aspect, I don’t see why it couldn’t be molded to work for textbooks.
If there is any way that we could find a solution to lower costs of going to college even more, we should.
I don’t think that students should be forced to take out an extra student loan just to have to purchase their books. Granof may need to be more realistic when thinking of what the licensing fees will be, but his textbook licensing idea is clever and has the potential to make a difference is the way that the textbook business is operated.