Students and teachers find alternative routes to combat textbook prices

Michael McShane
Staff Writer

One of the things that many, if not all, students dread when a new semester starts is buying the many, costly textbooks for their classes. Textbooks can range from around $15 to well over $100 for one textbook; and when you pile on the multiple textbooks you have to get for each individual class, the costs add onto a student’s bank account.

This difficult situation has many students and even teachers finding alternative ways of getting the course material. 

For students, the most well-known option is Amazon.com. The online retail site has countless used textbooks that allow students the comfort of knowing they will be able to keep up with their coursework and not worry about money at the same time.

Trisha Walker, a student at Minnesota State University, Mankato, is one of these students who sees sites such as Amazon as beneficial tools students can use to get their textbooks. 

Walker said, “I’ll look through their used books, I won’t buy them new even, just used. A lot come from thrift stores that partner with Amazon.” 

For teachers, they themselves are also finding different ways to help students get around the burdensome price tag. 

There are many teachers in multiple different academic departments who do not require the use of textbooks but rather create their own material, based off their own knowledge of the course subject, or use online articles off the internet.

Teachers themselves are affected by how much textbooks cost as they find many of their students waiting until the second week of school to get their textbooks, limiting teachers who wish to move into the subject matter as quick into the semester as possible.

No teacher is forced to use a certain textbook for their courses which gives teachers flexibility into how they teach their classes.

Lee Tesdell, an English professor who teaches Technical Communication, spoke to the Reporter about his way of using other low-cost options for his classes.

Tesdell said, “I’ve given up using a technical communication textbook for my intro class, but I do assign a handbook, and another book to read, but not a basic tech. comm textbook. I believe it’s [in the] $55-$60 range which is pretty reasonable.”

Other teachers find it more difficult to manage between student affordability and finding material that best matches the course. 

Another teacher, who wishes to remain anonymous, explains her dilemma in dealing with the cost versus information.

She said, “Affordability is one factor; the other factor is does the textbook meet the course objectives that you’re trying to achieve. So that is the biggest problem, and I do struggle with the textbook prices and then some of the textbooks that I want to use are often very expensive, but then there are textbooks that I feel will be beneficial for the course.”

Teachers will try to direct students in need of textbooks unable to afford them to the Maverick Textbook Reserve in the Memorial Library on the MNSU campus.

“We have, in our department, a student worker at the library who has been very active in figuring out what books are required for the different courses in the major, [and] in getting them on reserve at the library,” said Dr. Charis Davidson, who teaches in the Health Science department.

Students wishing to learn more about how to live through college while being financially stable can attend an event that will discuss certain topics such as student loans, debt management, and budgeting. The speaker at the event, Jacob Jaeger, is the branch manager of the Wells Fargo bank located on campus in the CSU. The event will start at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday and will be held in Trafton East 225.

Feature photo courtesy of Flickr.

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