Allen, Nicole. “A Cover to Cover Solution: How Open Textbooks are the Path to Textbook Affordability.” The Student PIRGs. Public Information Resource Group, Sep. 2010. Web. 10 July 2011.
In this lengthy article, Allen details a study she conducted to determine if open textbooks are a logical way to make student textbooks more affordable. Considering “the average student spends $900 on textbooks annually,” she thinks “the need for solutions is increasingly urgent” (Allen 4). She goes into some detail around what she calls “market failure that hinders the economic checks and balances that naturally regulate costs” (6) as the reason publishers charge so much. Other reasons include issuing new editions every “3-4 years regardless of changes in the subject” (6) and bundling books with software or study guides most professors do not require students to use. She cites that the federal government is aware there is a problem with textbook costs and is doing several things to help students, including requiring publishers “disclose textbook prices to professors during the marketing process” (7). She introduces the idea of open source textbooks, which are “offered online under an open-source license that allows free digital access, low-cost print options and customization by instructors” (8) and says that over 1000 college professors are currently using this option (8). The remainder of the study looks at student preferences and finds that 75% of students still prefer printed copies over electronic copies (9) and 34 % would still rather buy at least some of their textbooks rather than rent them (10). In Allen’s final recommendations, she encourages the further development of open textbooks by publishers and their use by students (16). This article does a great job providing enormous detail to explain the costs each year to students of traditional textbooks versus the savings of open textbooks. It also shows that students are not yet ready to make the move to electronic, online books. It is also important to note that the group that funded the study, PIRG, has been involved in multiple protests against textbook companies for what it claims are price gouging practices. 2. Bernard, Tara Siegel. “For Class, Book Deals.” New York Times 15 Jan. 2011 late edition: B5. Access World News. Web. 10 July 2011. Bernard’s article looks at ways students can save money by buying their books in places other than the campus bookstore by compiling suggestions from college students around the country. She points out that when it comes to buying textbooks “there are so many options, however, that the whole process can begin to feel like the semester’s first research project” (Bernard B5). Bernard lists several comparison sites, where students can enter a needed title on one site and it will automatically search several sites for a cost comparison of the exact book needed, but she also points out that the “condition of the books varies greatly” (5). Students may also find that international versions of books can be half the price of U.S. versions, but her source warns “some publishers have made small changes to the pagination or text to make it more difficult to use in the United States” (5). Overall, Bernard does a good job of quickly explaining options to students to help save money, but nothing in this article explains why textbooks are so expensive or gives an opinion on what colleges can do to help students with their high book bills. 3. Bruno, Laura. “College Books for Less.” USA Today 17 Aug. 2010 final edition: 6D. News Bank. Web. 10 July 2011. Bruno’s article looks at a rental solution to high textbook costs that over 1300 colleges have implemented across the U.S. with “potential savings up to 50% off the price of a new textbook” (Bruno 6D). The article also mentions the Higher Education Opportunity Act that “says colleges must list required course materials for students during registration,”