House works to cut cost of textbooks

By Meghan Smith
February 21, 2008

Matt Knab/Submitted Photo

The cost of textbooks is a huge concern for many students. Recently, states and even the U.S. Congress have debated bills that either will lower the cost of textbooks or at least force publishers to be more open about their pricing.

“I spent $750 on six books first semester and only used four of them,” Jessica Bogia, a sophomore accounting major, said.

Cabrini’s bookstore “prices its textbooks according to industry standard pricing,” Michele Conroy, bookstore manager and Follet representative, said in an e-mail.

In October 2007, Assembly Bill 1548 was passed in California. This bill requires publishers to list the wholesale price of textbooks in addition to the differences between each edition on the books themselves. However, this bill will not require publishers to list prices on their Web site or catalogue.

In Pennsylvania, House Bill 1842 was introduced to prohibit publishers and retailers in Pa. from selling bundles unless texts are available for individual sale.

“We support legislation that will help control the cost of textbooks for students. In many cases the legislation will not only be beneficial for students, but also for the bookstore,” Conroy said.

A press release from the Campaign to Reduce College Textbook Costs, states that the California law will leave professors looking through a stack of books and calling publishers to find out prices.

According to the Massachussetts’ Student Public Interest Research Group’s, MASSPIRG, February report Exposing the Textbook Industry, the cost of textbooks have been rising at four times the rate of inflation since 1994. Textbooks now account for almost 20 percent of tuition and fees at four-year universities.

The MASSPIRG reported showed that out of 287 professors surveyed, only 63 percent generally knew the cost of the books they were assigning students.

As an alternative to spending hundreds of dollars on books from the bookstore, many students are turning to the internet for their textbook shopping. is free price-comparison Web site which lets buyers enter the ISBN, name of the textbook or author into the site to find the cheapest price on the Internet.

The online textbook vendors registered on consist of, and

“I love buying my books online. I use because it’s easy and saves me a ton of money,” Marissa Dragani, a sophomore business major, said.

Cabrini’s bookstore, as well as many other schools, has seen a shift in their sales due to the Internet.

“We believe the best way for students to save money on their course materials is through the buying and selling of used textbooks through the bookstore. Used textbooks save students 25% from the new book price,” Conroy said.

With H.B. 1842 sitting in the Consumer affairs committee since last July, Pennsylvania college students must still dig deep into their wallets to purchase books each semester. Until this bill gets passed, the Internet and used books remain the cheapest outlets for textbooks.

Meghan Smith

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