Chalk Talks - Students Call for Influence in the Textbook Market

By Cotton, Rebekah | Journal of Law and Education, January 2010 | Go to article overview

Chalk Talks - Students Call for Influence in the Textbook Market


Cotton, Rebekah, Journal of Law and Education


I. INTRODUCTION

This Note examines the problem of high costs associated with textbooks, explores why the strategies employed to lower the cost of textbooks have failed and emphasizes the need for students to control the demand for textbooks in order to lower the prices.

II. EFFORTS TO LOWER TEXTBOOK PRICES HAVE FAILED

A. A Complicated Problem with a Simple Solution

The price of textbooks strongly affects the availability of a college education because the ability to attend college is often dependent upon cost.1 With rising costs, more and more Americans are being excluded from higher education2 and those who do obtain college degrees are saddled with extensive debt.3 This debt often burdens students for years after they finish their education.4 This problem is no secret to those in power. For instance, in a 2008 interview Barack Obama stated that payments for student loans owed by him and his wife were more than the ten year mortgage on his home.5 The President's own situation powerfully illustrated the situation faced by millions of Americans.

The President also noted that the issue of cost involves more than just tuition; it includes the outrageous cost of textbooks. He stated that "[b]ooks are a big scam .... I taught law at the University of Chicago for ten years, [and] [o]ne of the biggest scams is law professors write their own textbooks and then assign it to their students. They make a mint. It's a huge racket."6

The industry, comprised of publishers, distributors, bookstores and universities, is well aware that students are vulnerable and nonetheless, has continued to take advantage of this inelastic market. For years the industry has raised prices, bundled books into expensive packages, and printed new editions too often.7

Rising textbook prices affect every American family because high cost may factor into a student's decision about whether or not to attend college. It also affects every American taxpayer because federal student loans are spent on textbooks and thus, taxpayer money ends up lining the pockets of publishing companies.8

The textbook market is indivisible from education.9 Thus, there is a good argument for insisting on legislative regulation and prevention of exorbitant pricing by the textbook industry. However, remedies must focus on the most important factor, the voice of the unheard student.

This Note focuses on adding the student voice to the equation. This could be accomplished by implementing student textbook reviews and by making students aware of the pricing for all textbooks prior to registration deadlines. It could also be accomplished by informing students, prior to purchase, if a book is returnable after the next semester and for what amount. Still another way it could be accomplished is by making pricing information available to faculty before book selection.10 Finally, reports could be generated that detail total textbook cost for a particular degree and caps on pricing. With these changes, students could make more informed decisions about which classes they will take.

B. Failed Strategies

Current strategies to lower textbook prices fail because they require action on the part of students but do not afford students any influence on the textbook market." Proposals12 for limiting the skyrocketing prices include publishing new editions less frequently, rental systems, nonprofit bookstores,13 unbundling textbook packages including CD's and other supplementary material and internet access to books.14 However, the important change needed is to empower students to control the demand of the textbook market and hold the suppliers accountable. Part of the Higher Education Opportunity Act, passed by Congress in 2008, concerns the textbook industry. The Act's summary states that:

[i]t requires publishers ... to include written information concerning: (1) the price the publisher would charge the bookstore associated with such institution and, if available, the price the publisher charges the public, for such items; (2) the copyright dates of the three previous editions of such textbooks; (3) substantial revisions to such items; and (4) whether such items are available in other formats, including paperback and unbound, and the price the publisher would charge the bookstore and, if available, the price the publisher charges the public, for items in those formats. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Chalk Talks - Students Call for Influence in the Textbook Market
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.