Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

October 22, 2016   |   Ithaca, NY


Editorial: Professors should provide students with cheaper textbook options

A 2013 study done by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that college textbook prices rose 82 percent from 2002–12. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group also released a study in January 2014 saying college students spend an average of $1,200 per academic year on textbooks and other school supplies, based on answers from 2,000 students.

The high prices of textbooks have caused students to turn to the Internet to search for illegal copies of textbooks online. Students can often find full copies of books they need by adding “PDF” or “free” to a search, and 34 percent of students admit to pirating textbooks, according to a 2013 survey from the Book Industry Study Group.

Although anyone can view or download online versions of textbooks, pirating textbooks or any sort of intellectual property is illegal. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, publishing companies can obtain the names and information of students from colleges and universities around the country who have pirated textbooks.

It is unrealistic to expect students not to download textbooks illegally, especially since Ithaca College tuition, room and board has increased 67 percent from 2002–12 in the same time frame that textbooks prices have increased 82 percent.

However, the faculty can help alleviate this problem. Professors should reconsider requiring students to purchase books that will not be used frequently — or at all — and upload materials to Sakai. According to the Ithaca College Library website, professors can upload or photocopy up to 10 percent of a textbook for classroom use and can distribute journal articles if the college is subscribed to certain journal databases. If they are adamant about students having the full textbook, professors can provide e-books that are significantly cheaper than physical books.