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Business Plan To Reduce Textbook Costs At Ndsu

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December 12, 2006



Christa Lavey

Today more than ever it is critical for America's young generations to attend college and receive a degree in order to be successful. However, rising prices in tuition and other expenses have put substantial financial strain on parents trying to pay for the constantly increasing costs of college. It puts even more strain on students who will be forced to pay back enormous student loans once they graduate. One of the added expenses that a student will face is that of college textbooks.

To provide all students with an equal opportunity to utilize the material required for their classes, I propose to develop a way to reduce the cost of books for college students on our campus. This proposal involves using the most cost conscience methods to provide students with suitable textbooks, increasing faculty awareness of costs, and increasing communication between students, teachers, and bookstores.

Causes of High Present Costs

The cost of college textbooks comes as an unwelcome and financially painful surprise to college students and their parents. The cost of books has increased by nearly $200.00 per year over the past five years, more than four times the rate of inflation. At four year universities a student will spend an average of $853.00 on texts alone in one year, approximately a quarter most students' total tuition costs (1). The high prices of new texts and frustration of not being able to sell books back at the end of the semester has lead many students to simply not purchase them to begin with.

Since the profit margin on college books for most university bookstores has not increased at nearly the rate of the price increase, it appears reasonable that the problems lie elsewhere. Most of the blame for the rising price of college textbooks can be placed on the practices of many of the books' publishing companies. Today nearly 50% of all college course books come in bundled packages (2). These bundled text books force college students to buy other supplements, such as workbooks and CD-ROMs that come in the package, which drive up the costs significantly. Not only are students not given a choice of whether to purchase these extras, but many of them will never be utilized in the class. Another common and equally questionable practice of publishers is creating new editions of books too frequently. Many times the content change in the text is minimal but even so, it makes the previous edition obsolete and unable to be sold back to the college by the students once the class is completed. This also means that the next semester of students will have to buy the new editions instead of purchasing a used text at a significant discount.

The costs of textbooks is often an underestimated financial burden to students and one the needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. A student's academic success can literally be found in the pages of these books. What determines the success of a university if not that of the success of the students that are educated there?


The solution to the high cost of college textbooks at this university include:

* Selling books to students that do not come pre-bundled, giving students the choice of whether or not to buy the supplements that accompany the texts.

* Ensuring that instructors have access to information on the costs of text books that they are requiring for their courses. This will allow instructors to make a reasonable decision as to whether or not a similar text at a lower price would be just as useful in the class.

* Allowing professors the ability to approve the use of previous editions of texts when suitable.


The most important aspect to reduce the cost of college textbooks to our students is increased communication. If it is possible for all of the recommendations can be implemented, the expenses for students could be dramatically lowered.

A way to solve the problem of high costs for college textbooks is by selling books that do not come in pre-bundled packages to the students.



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