Letter to the Editor

Book costs shouldn't be ignored

Dale Satre

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The combined Academic and Classified Senate will be meeting on Monday, February 11 at 3:00pm in LG-109 to talk about the school’s priorities this semester.

As a student and Treasurer of the Los Medanos College Associated Students, I will be lobbying the faculty to use free online textbooks to reduce the financial burden on students.

With the cost of higher education rising faster than inflation, this has left our generation of college students in the dust financially. Data from education services firm Follett show the average textbook costing $203, shooting over 800 percent in the past forty years. Likewise, recent data from textbook publisher Cengage shows that all too often college students cannot balance their education materials budget, with 43 percent of students in the sample reporting that they’ve skipped meals to afford course materials, and 31 percent taking fewer classes to lower costs.

Many professors at LMC have done a commendable job at reducing textbook costs, but there is still much room for improvement. For this, I will propose at the upcoming Academic and Classified Senate meeting that we use free, online textbooks from Openstax.

Openstax is a nonprofit education foundation based at Rice University that provides free online textbooks for many subjects such as Calculus, U.S. History, Microeconomics, and Business. These textbooks are frequently updated, peer-reviewed, and 100 percent free. Hardcover editions of these books can be bought for around $50. These books have been vouched for and used by professors nationwide.

With the advent of the Internet and the open-source economy, there is no reason to continue supporting textbook publishers’ outdated business model that relies on rent-seeking in order to survive. Releasing new textbook editions every year, requiring students to purchase online access codes that cost as much as the textbook, and maximizing profit margins goes against our spirit of accessible education.

I encourage students to email me at dale.s.satre@gmail.com to tell me about their experiences with the financial strain of textbooks. I want more than data for my argument, I want to show faculty the personal side of inflated textbook costs. I want professors to give these OpenStax books a trial, and if they decided to continue requiring expensive traditional textbooks, to answer why. Better yet, you can come to the meeting yourself and voice concerns.

There is no reason for an exploitative publishing industry, part of the education industrial complex, to continue sucking money out of college students trying to start life and make ends meet. I urge you to email me your stories, and support the OpenStax initiative at LMC.

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