There may be relief in sight for students who have to make the difficult decision between textbooks and food.
San Francisco’s Greenlining Institute, a group that aims to improve the quality of life among low income and minority communities, found that textbook prices in England can be much cheaper than their American counterparts. The institute recently completed a study of textbook prices for University of California and California State University students. The institute expanded the study when it learned that many textbooks used by American college students can be purchased for nearly half the price or less in England.
Richard Corpus, a senior American studies major at UC Berkeley and intern at the Greenlining Institute, wrote a letter to University of California President Robert Dynes on Oct. 27 asking him to address the disparity between domestic and international textbook prices. In the letter, Corpus also gave suggestions of how the University can help lower prices.
Corpus said one of the institute’s suggestions is for professors to allow older editions of textbooks in their courses. According to Mark Ellis’s article “Sticker Shock” in the Columbus Dispatch, the constant release of new editions, which include more color and the occasional CD-ROM, accounts for the increase in price for each edition.
Corpus said Dynes’ personal involvement is vital to the campaign to end high textbook prices, since he represents UC students’ interests in the textbook market. By participating in the effort, Dynes will be saving UC students $2,000 over four years in book costs, Corpus said.
Hannan Eisenenmann, UC Office of the President spokesman, said UCOP has not yet responded to the institute’s letter, but it expects to have conversations with the institute in the future.
The Institute’s letter to President Dynes stated that “over a four-year period, the typical CSU student spent $4,500 on books and the typical UC student spent almost $5,000 on books.”
Students in England, however, pay far less for the same textbooks, the letter stated. For example, a hardback edition of Physical Chemistry by P.W. Atkins and Julio Depaula is sold for $129.55 at the online book retailer Amazon.com. On Amazon.co.uk, Amazon’s online retail website in England, the same edition is available in paperback for only