Lower Textbook Prices Finally a Reality

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The cold morning breeze pierces my face as I stand outside the B building for over a half an hour. When I finally get to walk through the swiveling doors, it is still another 20 minutes till I can actually enter the bookstore. After getting the books I need, I head over the cashier where she mutters those dreadful words, “That will be $250.” At that moment the excitement of starting a new quarter quickly turns into annoyance as I unwillingly hand her my debit card.

This frustration is one that pretty much any college student can relate to, that is unless you go to Green River.

What makes GRCC so lucky is that they have recently started using the state’s new Open Course Library.

The Seattle Times explains how the Open Course Library was established by Washington’s Board of Community and Technical Colleges to “create low-cost textbooks and other course materials for students” in the state and hopefully around the world.

So far there are 42 available materials for the top enrolled c.c. (community college) courses in the state and “an additional 39 courses will be finished by 2013.”

Funded by state money as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Open Course Library not only has textbooks, but syllabi, activities, readings and assessments which will cost about “$30 or less per course for hard copies.”

What this means for students is that textbook prices will drop significantly. Like for the students at GRCC, math books for example will be $20 instead of $200. Students and anyone else who wants to use it will have access to the program for free online.

With the digitization of the textbooks, not only does this save students money, it saves printing companies and schools money too because they can be updated at anytime.

Because of the library’s easy access, Tom Caswell, project lead, hopes the completion rate of courses will increase as a result since many students “try to get by without buying some of them.”

Many students, myself included, try to preserve the textbooks they buy so they can hopefully gain some money back by selling it at the end of the quarter. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but with cheaper textbooks, students will feel more free to use their textbooks, write in them, highlight them, and just rough them up a little, which will most likely benefit their study habits.

According to The Seattle Times, Nicole Allen, an expert in textbooks, predicts that the Open Course Library will “save students $1.26 million during the 2011-2012 school year,” and if all c.c. adopted this technique, students would save “as much as “$46 million a year.”

Some, however, are concerned with the quality of the textbooks, but Michael Kenyon, calculus teacher at GRCC, after looking at many calc. textbooks, reassures that “there are some people who think this is the best book out there.”

Rep. Reuven Carlyle who sponsored the $750,000 from the state to start the library hopes to introduce to legislature a similar program for K-12, saving school districts a lot of money as well.

The cost of tuition is high enough and as a college student the last thing on your mind should be how you’re going to pay for textbooks too. With the Open Course Library, students are able to breathe a little easier knowing that buying textbooks will no longer be a burdening task.

This and more information is provided by The Seattle Times article “Low-cost textbooks debut for community colleges.”