Students say textbook prices are out-of-hand

May 5, 2010 by Simone Del Rosario NMSU Round Up

An overwhelming majority of New Mexico State University students think textbook prices on campus are too expensive, according to a scientific poll conducted by the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications.

According to the poll, 75 percent of student respondents said textbook prices were too expensive, while 15 percent said they were acceptable. Nine percent of the student respondents said textbook prices were reasonable.

The poll also showed that 33 percent of the respondents favored purchasing textbooks from online stores, while 23 percent favored buying from the campus bookstore. Seventeen percent choose to buy from the off-campus bookstore, while seven percent prefer renting textbooks online.

“I always buy my textbooks online,” said Brandon French, a senior economics and finance major. “Most of the time, I can find the textbooks I need for less than half the price of what the campus bookstore is charging.”

When enrolled in BLAW 316, French found the new textbook for $100 on abebooks.com, while the NMSU bookstore was charging $213 for the same textbook. After the semester, he sold the textbook to the campus bookstore, who gave him $106, a 6 percent profit for French. The book can be found in the campus bookstore for a used sticker price of $148.85.

The costly prices of textbooks at the campus bookstore have greatly contributed to the 25 percent profit margin that the NMSU bookstore reported earlier this semester at a Associated Students of NMSU senate meeting. In comparison, Barnes & Noble Inc., reports a total profit margin of all their stores of less than four percent last fiscal year.

“I think the textbook prices on campus are incredibly unfair,” said Austin Gaspar, a student at NMSU studying psychology and communication studies. “I buy my books from the Campus Bookstore, but only because it is more convenient.”

According to the poll results, 50 percent of the student respondents said that they believe it is possible to be successful in a course without purchasing the required text. Anna Garliss, a junior biology major, said she agrees.

“I avoid buying textbooks because they’re so expensive,” Garliss said. “There have been times I wish I had the textbook, but I’m not willing to pay $250 for a book for one class.”

Recognizing the high costs of textbooks, the Honors College awards textbook scholarships each semester to nominated students who enroll in honors courses.

“We offer the scholarships because books are becoming a major expense issue for students,” said William Eamon, dean of the Honors College. “We want to do what we can to help our students.”

The textbook scholarships are $100 each and are funded by money raised through alumni. As the endowment grows, the Honors College hopes to raise the scholarship amount to $150 to $200, Eamon said.

According to the NMSU Undergraduate Catalog 2009-10, the cost for textbooks and supplies per semester is estimated at $300. However, many students, especially those in business and science disciplines, report spending approximately $500 each semester in textbooks alone.

Simone Del Rosario is a contributing writer and can be reached at trunews@nmsu.edu.


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