Breaking Bucks: The Cost of Books

by Anna Brahce
assistant opinions editor

     How much do you spend on textbooks?

It’s a legitimate question—one that we often ask ourselves, and one that we can answer unanimously: too much.

  Way too much.

     A person might spend in excess of a couple hundred dollars on a single textbook. Multiply this by four, and you approach triple-digit figures. Of course, this assumes you only need one textbook for each class, a condition that’s rarely the case. Instead the professors insist on making a whole list of totally necessary, undeniably, you-must-have-each-of-these-for-my-class textbooks. And there’s two semesters (plus, occasionally, summers) in one year. College is typically four years. You do the math.

Basically, we’re all suffering under the huge weight of excessive textbook costs. Then again, perhaps you revere your textbooks. Maybe it’s not just hidden somewhere in your closet or underneath your bed, collecting dust and housing mothballs. Maybe you read it dutifully every day, highlighting passages and quoting it like a regular Hermione Granger. Alternatively, maybe it’s just the thing you force yourself to buy because it says to on your syllabus. Whatever your approach to the use of these money-stealing fiends, the fact remains: They’re just too expensive!


Well, we try to lessen our spending by borrowing books from other students. Sometimes it helps to rent books or to buy used ones from the bookstore. More often, we search frantically online for the cheapest available options, scouring Amazon like desperate scavengers. If you happen to find a fairly cheap option, it may not be the correct edition. So you go through the hassle of having different page numbers than everyone else in the class, mixing up reading assignments and failing to effectively participate in class discussions. What happens when your class is the first to use the latest edition, and those persistent professors insist that “no other editions will do?” There aren’t enough words to express the agony and frustration that always ensues.

Textbooks are expensive. But like many rather unpleasant things in life, we need them. They may cost us an arm and a leg, but they’ll get us through college. Maybe one day we’ll really learn to appreciate them.

But until the costs go down, the financial struggle remains very real for your four years here.