Student Association examines rising textbook prices
By Justin Dolan
photo by Katie Meulemans
Sophomore Mike Stalker purchases textbooks
in the UW-Fox's bookstore.
Many students rented instead of purchased textbooks from the bookstore on UW Fox Valley’s campus this year.
The bookstore offered the rental option to lower the costs for students.
"UW-Fox Valley students who rented their textbooks for the spring semester saved a total of $27,704 over the cost of purchasing the same textbooks," Vic LeClair, manager of the bookstore, said in a Feb. 16 press release. "Renting a textbook can save students as much as 50 percent compared to purchasing a book.”
UW-Fox Valley’s bookstore is contracted through Nebraska Books, or Neebo, a textbook distributor that serves about 300 stores across the country.
Even though renting proved less expensive than buying, students are still looking for cheaper alternatives.
"Textbook prices are clearly extortive…I'm trying to get an education, not a debt,” sophomore Jonathan Steffen said. "I paid over $200 for a textbook that I haven't even opened."
Rhys Kuzdas, UW Fox’s Student Association (SA) president, outlined a plan to move the campus away from its current model of purchasing and renting textbooks from outside vendors like Neebo.
The new model would utilize segregated fees, which students pay to the university at the same time they pay tuition. “Students would be able to purchase all their textbooks in one go,” Kuzdas said.
Students would pay a lump-sum start-up fee to purchase textbooks chosen by their professors.
These same textbooks would be used four years. Kuzdas wants to work with campus administrators to move toward the new model.
"Price [of textbooks] has been a pressing issue for a while. SA saw the prime opportunity when Dr. Rudd became dean. “We're trying to channel the anger about the issue of book prices.” Kuzdas believes the timing is right for a change.
"The transition is inevitable. The campus needs to evolve to stay competitive," Kuzdas said.
Electronic textbooks are also being considered as an option, though not everyone likes e-texts.
“I don't think an electronic solution is the answer,” Steffen said. “If the electronic system fails, then we don't have anything to fall back on.”
Some professors already use free, open-source textbooks that are available online.
The catch is that only a limited number of those books are available.
John Beaver, associate professor of physics, uses an online text for his PHY 107: Foundations of Physics class.
“It's not a situation many other instructors would run into,” Beaver said.
Kuzdas said laying out the groundwork is the top priority for SA this summer.