An Alien’s Perspective: Textbook sticker shock


“The book is due at 11:04,” the lady behind the counter said to me. “Since it is a textbook, there will be a fine of 10 cents for every minute you’re late.”

All I needed was to look at the appendix of the book. As someone who studies almost completely out of his class notes, I am tired of spending money to open the book twice a semester.

We all know this. The textbook publishing industry needs to change drastically. The total cost of all the textbooks I used in my previous college was ₹21500, which is roughly $350.My Calculus textbook alone cost me close to $200.

Why are textbooks so expensive? Arguments of all sorts can be made in favor of the ridiculous prices. I find the cost of manufacturing the most laughable of claims. And several of the textbooks I’m talking about were American textbooks, so citing geographical reasons for the prices seems a little unjustified to me. Some of the more concrete arguments I have heard involve copyrights for referenced material, and additional material that comes with the textbooks in forms of online applications.

While I find some arguments more valid that the others, I still maintain that the prices are far too ridiculous. Something needs to be done about this.

For a while now, I have thought of how music subscription has made it easier to access more music simply because of economic convenience. I wonder why no one has attempted to do the same thing with books. It’s essentially a digital library.

The Ablah Library already subscribes to several databases, journals, ebooks and other volumes. Wouldn’t it benefit the students greatly if an online subscription to textbooks could be set up at a more reasonable subscription price?

Very recently, Scribd, a file sharing website, introduced a monthly subscription to access books that would otherwise cost you a lot more money. If they can work things out with Harper Collins, I’m sure someone can work something out with Pearson that would be a win-win situation for both the students and the publishers.