No college student can make it all the way through the years without having to purchase books. They’re absolutely essential for our day-to-day school work and probably the most beneficial tool that aids us in passing our classes. The fact that students have to buy the textbook assigned by their professor seems to be the reason why book prices have shot up so drastically over each passing year.
It’s stated in a report by the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) that college textbook prices increased three times the rate of inflation over the last decade. Personally, I know buying five or six books at West Virginia University’s Book Exchange have easily cost me 400 to 500 dollars per semester, so about 1000 dollars just for one year of classes. Thus far, I’ve spent roughly 4500 dollars on books. Yikes.
“About one in four first-year students and one in three seniors frequently did not purchase required academic materials because of cost, says a 2012 study by the non-profit National Survey of Student Engagement.”–USA Today
So let’s throw the general pricing issues to the side for a minute and focus on one of the more ridiculous, yet unanswered issues I’ve noticed with these local book stores around campus. They never seem to have enough books for all of the students! If the professors are ordering the books, I’m assuming by the exact student roster total for each of their classes, then why aren’t there enough books? It simply just doesn’t make any sense.
Normally a student has to wait until good ol’ syllabus week to figure out which books are needed for each particular course. That gives each student one week to come up with the funds, and go search for these books. May the odds be ever in your favor. I cannot tell you the amount of times I have had to drive back and forth between the two Book Exchanges set out for a single book—the missing link. Even though the map says it’s only a seven minute trip, traffic is ridiculous in Morgantown and adds a large amount of time to any “quick” trip. The downtown store is out, they resort to calling the other location on Evansdale, then stare at you with that optimistic look as they offer to order it for you. Nice gesture, but some professors here at WVU actually have reading assignments due during the first week (buzz kill, I know), especially in upper-level classes where more is expected of their students. Not having enough textbooks clearly leaves people short on time to hunt it down, or order from another website, placing textbook buyers in somewhat of a pickle.
Not only do these book stores not having enough supply stress students out, it has to be extremely upsetting and annoying for the professors who just want to get the ball rolling and begin teaching. I’m sure almost every professor in Morgantown has had their email accounts flooded with messages from frantic students explaining they do not have the materials for the assignment. Yet this is a reoccurring issue year after year and these stores still do not do anything to resolve it.
Majority of professors seem to be realizing this common issue along with the lack of energy for book stores to fix it, and are starting to come up with temporary solutions. Some professors place copies of the required text in both downtown and Evansdale libraries. Though there are usually only one or two copies available for a few hours at a time, these WVU professors are helping students get past these obstacles when purchasing books. Some professors even photocopy the first chapter or so to get students started, which could probably get them into some type of copyright mess but it’s much appreciated that they are trying to help their fellow Mountaineers.
Moral of the story is:
If you’re going to force students to spend such an immense amount of money on reading materials, then the bookstores should be required to have the exact number of copies for each class at every single store location.