Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Letters

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Letters

Article excerpt

Professors' demands push textbook prices up

In his Sept. 19 Opinion piece about the rising costs of college textbooks, "College textbook prices are unfair and unnecessary," David Zhou - like others who have written on the topic recently - is missing a large piece of the puzzle.

He is absolutely right that the price for textbooks is too high. But a major factor driving up their cost, which Mr. Zhou overlooked, is professors' demands for additional teaching resources.

More and more teachers today will not even consider a title if it does not have PowerPoint slides, tests, sample lectures, the ability to convert their lecture notes on previous editions (or competitive titles) to lecture notes for the newest edition, and the list goes on and on.

These resources are expensive to develop. What most students don't realize is that teachers receive these resources, which lessen their workload, completely free. The added costs of developing these resources are absorbed by the students in higher textbook prices.

The price of textbooks has certainly increased, and the frequency of new editions has increased to meet content demands and the emergence of the used-book market. But professors, even at Harvard, are part of the problem, and it's time students begin to recognize that.Nathan SchultzBusiness development manager, Monument Information Resource (a Bowker company)New Providence, N.J.

Not only do publishers overcharge students for mandatory textbooks, but professors also require students to buy books the professors themselves have written, and those books are also very overpriced.

A former professor of mine required a book he wrote to be one of the three textbooks for his class on 20th-century philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. The book is published by Blackwell and it cost us students $90. I found the same book months later (after I'd already purchased it new) for less than $10 at a used bookstore in my hometown of Cincinnati.

Overcharging students for texts is not only common, but expected. …

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