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Sticker Shock
(Continued from 1)

How Does the Price Break Down?
Although it is difficult to pinpoint exact numbers on a text, the National Association of College Stores provides a dollar break down reflecting the market. The information was collected from college and university bookstores and textbook publishers across the country.
New $50 Textbook $ %
Publisher $33.50 67%
Author $4.50 9%
Freight Company $1.25 2.5%
Revenue given to college or university for academic programs, student activities, capital improvements, etc. $4.50 9%
Bookstore    
Employee salaries and benefits $5.00 10%
Earnings and other direct expenses including taxes, equipment, maintenance, repairs, etc. $1.25 2.5%
Total: $50.00 100%
©2002 National Association of College Stores, Inc.

What Can I Expect to Pay This Year?
The price of textbooks continues to rise as noted in a recent study by the New Mexico Commission of Higher Education. Several factors come into play including advances in technology with higher production prices and faster turnover of editions. Online outlets like Efollett and Classbook.com offer some reduction on prices of new books as well as listings for used texts which average about 25% less than new. Forrester Research estimates that about 10 to 15 percent of textbooks will be purchased online by 2003, so more students are logging in and buying. Internet access means that students can buy direct at outlets like College Book Service, swap books with programs like College Book Swap, or buy/sell used books at eBay. The bottom line is that textbooks are expensive and prices continue to rise; however, students today have more options and can, in many cases, save on texts on a short-term basis by going online.

What About the Future?
Technology has reached a stage where material can be stored and accessed online. This means that textbooks can be published and updated on the Internet. For example, many medical texts including Grays Anatomy can be viewed or downloaded at Doctor's Reference Online. In the future, students could buy all or portions of books online as needed. Some materials would likely be free like Grays while others would include a charge with login to access.

Overall, prices would be lower, updates faster, and access less limited (since you could log in anywhere).



Cyndi Allison is a lecturer in the communications department at Catawba College and a freelance writer for national magazines.

For more information on how to get a better return when selling your textbooks, see Textbook Buybacks.

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