Downloading Textbooks Thrifty but Questionable Trend among Canadian Students

Article excerpt

Downloading textbooks thrifty but dubious

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TORONTO - After fees for the semester have been paid and school supplies have been bought, there's one cost to Canadian university students that can often weigh heavy on their wallets.

The textbooks many have to buy for multiple courses can often cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but some students have found a way to hold on to their cash.

Natalie Fasullo is one of them.

The 19-year-old University of Guelph student only spent $225 on all five of her textbooks, estimating she saved over $775.

Her savings were the result of obtaining four of her textbooks in a way that qualifies as copyright infringement -- she downloaded one, bought two as digital copies for $15 and $10 each, and was given another digital copy for free by a friend.

"Textbooks are insanely expensive, and I feel like the textbook companies are ripping us off," said Fasullo, explaining why she obtained her textbooks the way she did.

"It's not fair that we have to pay somewhere from $500 to $1000 per semester just to take the courses properly, with the text."

Twenty-one-year-old Mohsen Taeb, a Ryerson University student who has also downloaded textbooks, agreed.

"Textbooks are $120 and up, at least," he said. "It pains you to pay (for the books) with your own money."

The high price of textbooks isn't the only reason students are opting for cheaper or free alternatives.

The frequent updating of textbook editions often forces students to buy the latest version of the book instead of cheaper, second-hand ones from their peers, said Taeb.

The situation also means students looking to sell textbooks after a course in an attempt to recoup some of their costs have a hard time doing so.

But there's a reason textbooks are as expensive as they are, said Michael Harrison, the vice-president of University of Toronto Press Publishing.

It's because they contain "complicated subject (matter) that needs logical material to explain it," he said. …

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