No, Dog, I ain’t talking about your girlfriend, car or chain necklace. I’m talking about my pet peeve, the outrageous cost of college textbooks. I’ve elucidated on the topic before; things haven’t changed much in the last few months, but now I’ve stumbled upon a solution that might set all of us college students free. It’s the textbook reader. Who knew?
Here’s an excerpt:
DRM and electronic books could help lower college educational expenses while at the same time improving the health of students.
Here’s why: the economics of textbook publishing are broken. There’s a reason that an introductory biology textbook costs $125 new, and it’s not because it’s printed on high-quality paper using a special 12-color press. It’s because when the student is done with the book, he or she sells it back to the campus bookstore, or to another student. The publisher is thus deprived of recurring revenue on the title. So it raises book prices, heaping the revenue it would get from multiple students over multiple years onto one unlucky soul. But the more expensive books get, the more likely students are to recycle them. It’s a death spiral of cost. (Emphasis mine)
And, as a “more mature” student, I particularly appreciate this point:
And the health benefits? It’s a lot better for your back if you’re just carrying one 3-pound e-book instead of a half-dozen 8-pound printed texts.
I don’t even want to start on some other issues related to textbooks, like the idea that books are lumped into the final number of your student loan, so their cost is simply not important to the end-user. I’ll just note that if text-books were NOT covered by loans we would most likely hear a lot more squalling. Put another way, I think the text-book crisis is akin to the health insurance problem: until consumers start realizing the true cost (and bearing more of it) there won’t be any pressure on providers to control pricing.