Students’ never-ending battle to save on textbooks Anna-Lilja Dawson: Senior News Editor September 19, 2013 12:00 am News With some textbooks ringing in at over $200, students are exploring every avenue they can to save on class materials while publishers are fighting back. The Canadian Roundtable on Academic Materials reported a 280 per cent increase in prices over a 15-year period. Some students are lucky enough that they can access their books online for free, as graduate student Tansley David has managed with her Kindle eReader. “My new favourite is the Kindle because as a French lit student most of what I read is old enough to have become public domain. This term I found all six of my required texts for $0,” David said. David also searches through the university, city and provincial libraries to find her required texts and shops online through Amazon, AbeBooks and Alibris. To get around spending hundreds of dollars on new textbooks, students in the Western College of Veterinary Medicine have created a system where books are cycled down to younger years. “This, for us, is definitely a huge means of acquiring textbooks when entering a new year,” veterinary medicine student Jon Katzman said. Buying used from campus stores is a quick way for students to pick up textbooks at a discounted price. The University of Saskatchewan bookstore can sell used books for up to 50 per cent of the original selling price. Diane Michell, textbook manager for the U of S bookstore, said over the last five years sales have dropped slightly, but not this year. Sales for this September are up a little. “This year I’m quite astounded by that,” Michell said. “We’ve gone by the formulas that usually work and we seem to be selling more than I anticipated.” Sales at the bookstore vary each year with the new crop of students. Michell said often the sales are determined by how textbook-savvy students are and whether or not they are familiar with sources aside from the bookstore. Lyle Fitzgerald has been running Books Unlimited — a used bookstore that specializes in textbooks — for over 25 years. He has seen an increase in sales over the last couple of years, notably this year, which he credits to Browsers’ no longer being an option for students on campus. The ever rising cost of tuition and textbooks are two complaints that Fitzgerald regularly hears from his clientele. However this fall he has heard a new complaint: internet access codes. Many textbooks now come with internet access codes that allow students to do online quizzes, submit assignments and read supplementary articles. Michell sees students come in time-after-time to buy the access codes for their used textbooks. Unfortunately, it is usually cheaper for students to just buy the textbook brand new because of how expensive the access codes are. Art and art history Professor Marcus Miller does not assign textbooks for his students. Instead, he provides online copies of his selected readings for his students using websites such as Tumblr. Miller said he tries to make his textbooks as available as possible to students while maintaining password protected blogs and keeping under the copyright limits. U of S Students’ Union President Max FineDay is exploring the possibility of bringing an open-textbook program to campus. Through the program, certain textbooks would be licenced for free downloads by students and professors. FineDay said that one of the biggest barriers to education is the added cost of textbooks. – Graphic: Cody Schumacher/Graphics Editor TotallyCensored So, anyone mind telling me why my 100% legal comment about getting electronic copies of books one has paid for? (There’s even a large chunk of Reddit dedicated to e-text books at http://www.reddit.com/r/trackers/comments/hrgmv/tracker_with_pdfsebooks_of_college_textbooks/c1xrq44 ) If you could let me know what policies have been broken I’ll make sure to adhere to them in future. StillCensoredAlsoDitsy Clearly I meant to say: So, anyone mind telling me why my 100% legal comment about getting electronic copies of books one has paid for was deleted? Whoops. AndThisPostWillProbablyLive I personally think that academic institutions should boycott books which have access codes in them. Show the publishers that we will not stand for their money gouging techniques. Plus they’re expensive enough as they are, and I really don’t accept the price tag as proportional, they know we’re a captive audience and are gouging us. More people’d buy the books if they were cheaper you know.