College Textbook Fraud: As American as Apple Pie

Community colleges are fantastic for many reasons. They provide students with a cheaper alternative to a state college or university, they allow students the chance to take extra time when deciding their major, and lastly, they are great for being in a closer proximity to where students live. But unfortunately, where they are good for cheap tuition they make up for in textbook pricing.

Brookdale Community College is by far and away not the only college that charges egregious sums for textbooks in their store; this is an epidemic that has stretched out across the entire country, covering all kinds of different colleges. The educational establishment should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this overcharging of simple books to take place. Here are students, in the youthful prime of their life, trying to balance work and their studies all at the same time, some not getting any help with payments from their parents at all, and they have to worry about the ridiculous charges for books.

Many classes make it mandatory that a book must be purchased in order to pass the class, even if the book is even scarcely used during the semester. Through two semesters, and eight classes here at Brookdale, I have only had one class where the purchase of a textbook actually meant the difference between passing and failing, and that was a math class. Students taking math need the formulas and vocabulary, so to be angry at that would be placing anger in the wrong direction. But for the history classes, and almost everything else, the prices students are paying make me cringe.

Let us take, for example, history classes 135 and 136, the only two history classes I have taken to date. I was stunned when I found out that the book I purchased for the first course, Hist by Kevin Schultz, could actually be used for 136 and 137 as well. Imagine that, a $61 book when purchased new that will last for three semesters. It was almost too good to be true. Well, it was. I get to class only to find out that I now have to purchase a second book, called Mosaic of America, which is supposed to be used as a reference and a supplementary because it is full of first hand documents. This can be purchased for prices ranging from $70-80. To me, this Mosaic book is the grossest miscarriage of inter-departmental fraud that I have yet to witness at this college. The reason? Because it was written by someone who works for the college.

That is the one major thing I have noticed; a kind of get-rich-quick scheme orchestrated by the very professors who are here to help us with our education. Just think; become a professor, get paid thousands, write a textbook, or in Mosaic’s case, compile pre-written documents that can probably all be found on-line, and rake in even more money.

The same can be said for the Education 105 textbook, On Becoming a Teacher, written by a doctor, and one of the top educational professors in the college. I never had the doctor personally as a professor, but I just love how they have all their colleagues push their own book. I have also yet to have a professor who has made me buy a book written by himself, but I am sure it will be coming eventually.

The next thing, which is even funnier than above, is the fact that books change volumes every couple of years. A book that I have for the Exceptional Child course is in its twelfth edition. I went to look on Ebay, to purchase this book, and almost had a heart attack when I saw such a cheap price. But then I realized that it was an earlier and outdated edition. I had to settle for paying $125 at the Scroll and Pen bookstore on campus because they apparently had no used editions up for sale. Isn’t that convenient?

But it just keeps getting better and better. How about the book buy-back programs they have? You get to bring your $150 textbook to the store only to find out you are getting back $15. This is a slap in the face and an insult to the intelligence of the student body. Let me get this straight: I pay X amount of dollars for this book when it was brand new, and now fifteen weeks later, without one pen mark inside, automatically it is worth 90% less than what I paid for it? I say this right now; I would rather take that book back and eat it page by page than take a minuscule and unfair amount back from the college.

I wonder how much this stack cost it’s buyer?

That leads me to the next point, and something people often overlook, and that is purchasing books online. Ebay, Amazon, and places like Chegg (which I have never used) are great sources of buying the same books for sometimes less than half the shelf price. The book mentioned above for the Education 105 course currently sells for $93 used and $124 new, but I was able to find a used one on Ebay for $22, including the shipping and handling charges. Was the cover wrinkled? Yes. Was there some writing inside? Yes, but nothing major. And here is the biggest question, was it used in class? Maybe two or three times. If you want students to pay such asinine prices, the least you could do is not insult them and actually have them open the textbook a few times so it would at least appear to be worth the price.

This was not meant to be an attack on the establishment of Brookdale, because they have only followed suit with what every college in America has done. This is also not an exposé, because all of this is unfortunately terribly obvious to the student body, and even some of the professors. The educational establishment thinks that students are just children who will mindlessly pay out extravagant amounts of money for a textbook that will be useless to them in fifteen weeks. Whatever happened to fairness and courtesy of not insulting people to their face by forcing them to purchase a book that is only available at the college, and nowhere else?

The colleges will complain that the book companies charge them a lot of money, so they have to overcharge the students. The book companies will complain that the bad economy is forcing them to charge more because it now costs more to produce the books. They can keep the chain going all the way to the ax-man who chopped down the tree where the paper came from, but what it all is, simply should be referred to as fraud. And when people in the real world commit this crime, they do not make more money, they go to jail. It is time for this to stop. It is time for education to be about the student, and not about the profit.


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