New study shows professors ignore textbook costs
Hundreds of dollars were replaced by hundreds of pages of reading material with the swipe of a card when MSU students bought textbooks for the fall semester this week.
Textbook prices rise about 3-5 percent each year, and this year is no different, said Tom Muth, manager of Collegeville Textbook Company, 321 E. Grand River Ave.
Although they are more aware of prices than they used to be, according to a study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, or GAO, nationally, most professors are more concerned about the appropriateness of course materials than the price of them.
The GAO asked professors how they choose textbooks because they are an important part of college affordability, especially as tuition prices have continued to rise. Per credit tuition prices at MSU rose about 2 percent for fall 2013 and about 3.4 percent the year before.
MSU professors said they try to keep prices in the forefront of course material decisions.
Course packets keep costs down for the students of James Crum, professor of plant, soil and microbial sciences. Using a course packet means the most relevant material is available to students and they save money, Crum said.
But many professors still use textbooks.
The textbook for a business class taught by Georgia Chao, associate professor of management, costs $60 or about $38 to rent.
“I do consider prices because I think some textbooks are outrageous,” she said.
However, based on how much some students spend on books, it seems that not all professors are as considerate of prices. Some students said they spent between $130 and $250 on textbooks at Collegeville, with more to buy.
“(Textbooks) suck and they’re expensive,” hospitality business sophomore Makenzi Kage said. “I’m so regretful every time I hand them my debit card.”
Kage spent $250 on three books at Collegeville and bought two more on Amazon.
Kage also said she didn’t buy all of her books online because she needed them right away. However, textbook requirements are posted online before the start of the semester on MSU’s Schedule Builder website.
About 81 percent of colleges surveyed by GAO provide textbook information online in an effort to allow students to shop around and save money.
One book costs $150 for Bridgette Murphy, a pre-nursing freshman. The book was overpriced, especially since it was used, she said.
Although books are expensive everywhere, Felipe Paiva, a chemical engineering freshman, said he went to Collegeville because books were cheaper there than an on-campus bookstore.
“I don’t think it’s worth what we pay,” he said, pointing out he spent $130 on three books.