Why college textbooks are so damn expensive

By Tristin Marshall 


The anxiety of starting a new semester can be very exciting; you will no longer have to abide by your tyrants—I mean parents–harsh ruling (for the next four month, at least), you are reunited with your college buddies, and you finally get to check out your classes!

The first week of classes can be very exciting, until the burden of required texts robs you of all the money you thought you were spending on beer and Chipotle. Thoughts including “150whatttttt?!?!?!” and “do I really want to be a Doctor?” race through your mind as you see the astronomical prices of a textbook you will read two pages out of for the entire semester or one that you can never sell back because they will be “coming out with a new edition next semester.”


One constantly wonders in agony why textbooks are so damn expensive as we face the blues of going broke every semester.

According to textbookspyder.com, book publishers intentionally put out new editions frequently so that students are forced to buy full-priced books in order to keep up with the class. These books also come bundled with supplementary CDs and online passcodes, making them even more expensive. Textbook publishers aren’t fools: they know that we need these textbooks to survive the semester.

However, you can laugh straight to the bank with a little more money (and dignity) by doing some research before you blindly buy a brand new book at the bookstore because it seems like the only choice. Beat the book publishers at their own game and buy older editions of the books required for your class. The changes between editions will be very small, and you should still be able to keep up with.

You can also check the library to see if the professor has the required text on reserve or if one of the many libraries on campus has the novel you need on their shelf. But be aware—you can only check textbooks that are on reserve out for a few hours at a time, and if your classmate needs the book that you have checked out, they can recall it and you will have to return the book before your appointed.

So the next time you consider blowing up the book store because you went from ballin’ to broke in a matter of minutes, know that they are just the messenger. You can also try buying your books online from websites such as amazon.com, chegg.com, and half.com. These are all trustworthy websites that will have your books here in no time. You may even want to try the Illini Book Exchange, where UIUC students can buy and sell books amongst themselves.

Don’t get too discouraged about your semester when it comes time to buy books. You may really like some of the textbooks an even consider keeping them. Hey, somebody has to look on the bright side, right?

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