What Every Student Wants to Know: Why Are My Books So Expensive?

textbookblogWe sat down with Rich Knapp and Carmen Casanova from Wilmington University’s Campus Store to ask them about renting and purchasing textbooks and etextbooks. We asked them the question that most students ask – “Why are textbooks so expensive compared to non-educational books?”

Unlike non-educational books, textbooks go through a rigorous approval process. “Development and vetting of the product is the most expensive part of textbook development,” said Rich Knapp, Assistant Manager and Texbook Coordinator at the Campus Store.

Tenured professors are hired to write the book, while other professionals vet and correct the text. After that, a sales team markets and sells the book. “All of this happens before the publisher gets any revenue,” added Knapp. Mass market publishing requires much less up front investment.

Carmen Casanova, Manager of the Campus Store, wants Wilmington University students to know that the Campus Store is committed to giving students the best price possible for their books. “The Campus Store is owned and operated by Wilmington University, a non-profit institution,” she said.

Many higher education institutions have outsourced their bookstores to outside companies. “We’re here to provide a service to our students, not to make a profit,” said Casanova. “We work very hard to find the lower possible prices for our students.”

But there’s no denying that textbooks are a large expense in your education budget.

If textbooks are straining your budget, there are steps you can take to reduce the expense. Try renting your books, or consider ebooks, which can be up to 50% of the cost of printed books. And financial aid students may use their award to purchase books at the Campus Store after their tuition obligation is met.

Casanova and Knapp recognize that students also take advantage of Amazon’s competitive textbook pricing, but caution students that outside sources’ return policies may not be as generous as the Campus Store’s. Students also run the risk of ordering an outdated or wrong textbook.

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