Busted! – Our Final Post

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Thanks for joining the Textbook Busters on our journey to expose the textbook market. By now, you should realize that the current state of textbooks is against the student. But with your help, not for long.

Thanks to those who read our blog posts or signed our petitions. We hope that you feel more empowered to stand against the textbook market. Awareness is so important!  Now that you know the secrets of the market, you will be able to avoid some of the common pitfalls like buying books directly from the bookstore or buying digital textbooks, etc. Now you know to persuade your professors to provide open source and used textbook options. We also hope to have made you aware of some of the myths within the market like most professors make a lot of money off of the textbooks they write.


If you are just discovering our blog here are some of our top posts. We hope that they interest you.

Why are textbooks so expensive?

Are professors really making money off of textbooks?

Want to discover a textbook option that is totally free?

So you have to purchase a textbook, what are some money saving options?

Even though our blog is ending, we encourage each of you to become a Textbook Buster. Check for discount bookstores and websites like Slugbooks.com. We encourage you to share the tricks of the trade that you find with each other. While we have signed petitions and made our voices heard to lawmakers and publishers, change still needs to take place. This is just the beginning.. Don’t stop here…victory is in sight.

Sign off,

The Textbook Busters

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Sinking Down Textbook Prices

Now that you’ve read The Evil Twin, the Seed of Satan-Digital Textbooks  and It’s just not right… you’re probably wondering, well how do we lower the cost in textbooks? Well one possible solution to lowering the cost of textbooks is by renting them. According to Tywan Miller author of College Textbook-Rental Easy Affordable Alternative for Budget Conscious College Students! “On average, a student can save upwards of 50% of the cost of purchasing their books through college textbook rental.”

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If students move towards renting textbooks instead of buying them they will spend less money. Trust me as a college student I know the feeling when you’re running low on cash and can’t afford your books.  Last fall I was running tight on money for college books and decided to rent my textbooks and saved my self-hundreds of dollars. Also, according to Tamar Lewin, “rentals give both publishers and textbook authors a way to continue earning money from their books after the first sale, something they do not get from the sale of used textbooks.”  There are other methods that students can use to waste less money on textbooks.

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Another possible way to stop spending a lot of money on books is CUTTING OUT THE MIDDLE MAN! We live in the 21st century where technology and social media are our friends. Bernard is his article in the NY Times pushes college students to go on social media and search around campus for people willing to exchange books with you. This is cutting out the middle man, “the publishing companies” and preventing them from getting a hand on our savings. This means use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. to your advantage. Search on Facebook for book groups that show available books and save money!

If you want to save money, avoid campus bookstores! They should be your last resource if you can’t find the book online. For better deals I personally use Amazon.com or Half.com where I can compare prices with other vendors to get the best deal for me. This may require that you register for classes at least three weeks in advance, in order to give your book time to come in the mail. Online book shopping does help lower cost. During my sophomore year at the University of Maryland I decided to buy all my textbooks, I know super dumb idea! Anyway, it helped me realize that books are overly expensive. So I looked on Amazon and saved a lot; that sophomore year I spent roughly around $700 in books. Shopping on Amazon I wasted $439 on books and after a certain amount you qualify for free shipping!! Even better!

There are other options out there for buying textbooks and maybe some of you were aware and maybe others weren’t. I hope you have benefited from this week’s post on how to save money on college textbooks using other methods; renting, online buying, or cutting out the middle man by searching on social media for possible book exchange!

Affirmative blog

Textbooks – Hate ’em, but sometimes, you just can’t live without ’em.

Though we cannot always escape the fate of buying expensive textbooks, there are always ways you can save some money! With tuition prices rising every year, why should we spend so much money on textbooks? Especially if you might not even use it for the whole semester. Here are three articles that might just help you reduce the prices you pay for those “required”, expensive textbooks.


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Are Textbooks Worth the Pricey Cost? 

By: Rick Jackson

Summary: At Wesley College, there was an interview with the Wesley Bookstore about the prices of textbooks. Bookstore manager, Kris McGlothlin, acknowledge how it’s not the bookstore’s fault for the high prices, but rather it’s the publishers because they are the ones trying to make a profit. Though, you can buy textbooks at a cheaper price by either buying an eBook or another site, it won’t always mean you’ll end up using it. A legal studies major, Sherleen Sabin, stated how she took a psychology course and only used it a couple of times.

Why this source is important: This article acknowledges that textbooks are pricey and, sometimes, even useless. And it’s also the fact that it was an article at a college with interviews from a student and a bookstore manager that realized that textbooks aren’t always priced fairly.

What to do with the source: So, why spend even more money on textbooks that aren’t priced fairly? Why waste money on a book you will probably only open a few times during the semester? If you really want/need a textbook, check out Chegg, otherwise, we should think before we buy.

Read the full article here.


Does Renting Textbooks Make Sense?

By: Book.ly

Summary: Have you ever wonder if renting textbooks are better than buying them? Well, an article done by Book.ly explains both the pros and cons of renting a textbook. Here are their reasons:Image

Furthermore, financially, the best way to acquire textbooks is through buying used and reselling it back because it would save approximately $54.15; however, you are also taking a chance that no one would want to buy your used textbook since newer editions come out.

Why this source is important: This source helps you weigh the pros and cons of renting or buying textbooks. Not only does it show you the pros and cons, it also compares the prices if you were to buy it new, buy it used, buy it used then reselling it, and renting and returning.

What to do with the source: If you ever need some help with deciding whether to buy or rent, this is the one of the best advice for you! It’s like second hand help for you if you are on a tight budget!

Read the full article here.


If You’re Buying Textbooks This Week, Get Educated, Not Schooled

By: Eliza Brooke

Summary: While textbooks are expensive, there are tons of different ways to get them for cheaper. This article lists the ways you would be able to buy your textbook for a cheaper price. Here are the ways:

  • Boundless: “a free service that aligns its e-textbooks with other popular texts by chapter across 20 subjects.”
  • Chegg: Where you can buy new/used, rent a hard copy or rent an e-text for up to 60 days.
  • Google Play Store: e-text rentals.
  • Borrowing from an old classmate or friend.
  • Borrowing from the library.

Why this source is important: This article provides useful information about different ways to buy textbooks, yet still saving money. It gives you reasons why you should use a certain site and it has different sites for different needs and cost; from being free to paying for a textbook, this article has everything you need!

What to do with the source: When you are in doubt and overwhelm with the beginning of the semester, come here to find the best places and ways to buy your textbooks. You might even not have to pay anything for them! Which would end up saving you lots of money on top of that student loan debt you might have!

Read the full article here.


Overall: The articles provided useful sources containing different methods of buying textbooks for a cheaper price. With prices escalating and a new edition coming out every year, these three articles give you exactly what you need to know if you are tight on cash or just don’t want to spend too much money on textbooks. I hope you all have fun finding the best bargain!

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“Custom” Textbooks – Robbing Students One Page At a Time

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Over the years, students have tried to cope with the continuous rising costs of college textbooks by finding new tricks to save money. These once innovative ideas include buying used textbooks, renting, or simply not buying the required texts at all. It seems as though we have hit a plateau and are out of newer and cheaper ideas. Well, the college textbook industry has taken notice and capitalized by creating a new way to combat these money saving tactics.

Enter, custom required textbooks.

What’s that you ask? The custom textbook industry is where textbook publishers work together with (mostly) major universities to create custom, school-specific editions of generic texts. And with the schools labeling these textbooks as “required,” students’ textbook money saving tricks become virtually extinct.

What is even worse about these new custom textbooks is that some academic departments share the profits from these textbooks with the publishing companies. Seems kind of immoral and unethical, doesn’t it?

In the article, As Textbooks Go ‘Custom,’ Students Pay, author, John Hechinger, cites an example from the University of Alabama:

“[The University] requires freshman composition students at its main campus to buy a $59.35 writing textbook titled “A Writer’s Reference,” by Diana Hacker. The spiral-bound book is nearly identical to the same “A Writer’s Reference” that goes for $30 in the used-book market and costs about $54 new. The only difference in the Alabama version: a 32-page section describing the school’s writing program — which is available for free on the university’s Web site. This version also has the University of Alabama’s name printed across the top of the front cover, and a notice on the back that reads: “This book may not be bought or sold used.”

The reasoning behind this “genius” idea? Textbook companies and college officials claim that these custom textbooks provide “needed resources for academic departments and more-useful materials for students.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t even have so called “materials” in my classes. I also think that our already hefty tuition and fees bill and regular high-priced textbooks pays for the departments’ resources.

I will admit, publishers were creative in coming up with this exclusive textbook program. Only requiring a custom textbook does stop the sale of used textbooks. And in some cases, students aren’t even allowed to resell these books even in AUTHORIZED campus bookstore buyback programs due to the resell prohibition. If the campus bookstore won’t even buy them back, then I am led to believe that this is truly an unethical practice simply screwing college students over.

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What will these textbook publishing companies come up with next?! And when will universities and professors be on our side??

To eBook, or not to eBook: that is the question.

Have you ever wonder why eBooks are so expensive? I mean, they are digit and available on the Internet, so why do they have to cost so much?

An article by Michael Hyatt, former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers and author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World – a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestseller – answered the question: Why are eBooks so expensive?

Michael Hyatt broke it down into three reasons for why they are so expensive. They are the following:

  1. Adjusted retail price. The price you pay is roughly half of how much it would cost you to buy the physical book. In addition, the way retailers that buy the eBook is going to shift to “the agency model” – the publisher sets the price and the “agent” (retailer/buyer) would get a “commission” from the publisher.
    1. For example, if an eBook is being sold for $10, then the publisher will gain a net of approximately 70%; thus, they will gain a net profit of $7.
  2. Cost of physical manufacturing and distribution don’t cost that much. Yup, you heard it, the cost of physically making the book doesn’t cost that much. In fact, it only make up around 12% of the total retail price of the book.

So, why are eBooks so darn expensive? It’s not like they cost much to begin with. Well, because of the third reason:

  1. The three new costs:
    1. Digital preparation. The books must be scanned or manually keyed in, and then they have to be formatted to work on all the various eReaders. If you think that’s a lot of work, the last step of preparation is collecting and adding all relevant metadata so customers could easily search for them.
    2. Quality assurance. The time-consuming process quality assurance a.k.a. “QAing”. Each page has to be rendered correctly.
    3. Digital distribution. The files have to be distributed to the various eRetaliers. With more eRetailers than Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple, they each also have their own individual protocol to how to upload the book.

So, the new costs are initially the reasons why eBooks cost so much. The process of making it and distributing it is time consuming and costly. You might believe that you’re getting a great deal by buying the eBook but, when you think about it, you’re not. You’re basically paying the same for the hard, physical copy of the book.

We already pay so much for college. Why do we have to pay more for eBooks? The books that would be cheaper due to the fact that they’re not the physical copy and they are easily accessible on the web. So, next time you need to buy a textbook, ask yourself this: Is the price I’m paying worth it?

If you would like to read the article published by Michael Hyatt, click here.

If you would like to learn more about “the agency model”, click here.

 

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Picture for thought.

 

Professors!!! Guilty or Not??

“Thanks Einstein!!”


Thanks EinsteinNow I know that at least one of us has had a professor like Einstein here! I know I have; just this semester a professor stated a “required textbook” on the syllabus that I haven’t opened! Mind you the semester is almost over. Like this comic, there are many professors that say they will lecture on the material in the books but instead us other methods such as uploading articles.

So, why require us to buy textbooks that professors don’t use? Why not make life more simply and provide the students with the readings online? Everyone owns a computer and those who don’t have easy access to one.

This week we want to provide sources that really point out the roles of the professors with college textbooks and show that although some do us the college system to introduce their own material, a few are faithful and know the struggle that college students go through to buy a simple book.


Should Professors Have to Think About Textbook Prices?

By: Courtney Buell

Summary: This blogger knows her stuff! Courtney Buell goes to talk about professors role in the textbook market. She argues that professors are really the ones “calling the shots” when it comes to selecting the course textbook. This blog goes into explaining legislation changes that now require professors to look at prices and ways that can help their students buy cheaper books.

Why this source is important: The writer of this blog is a college student like the rest of us. This source is able to provide rules and legislations that are pushing for a stop in the increasing prices of textbooks. It also points us to a possible solution that we can encourage our college professors to do.

What to do with this source: This blog written by a Maryland college advisor and copywriter gives us a hope for a solution to the problem. We just need to keep pushing that this is an issue that needs a real solution!!


 

Are College Textbooks Priced Fairly?

By: Robert Carbaugh and Koushik Ghosh

Summary: This article was written to discuss the economics of textbooks. It talks about the strategies used to market textbooks to particular audience, such as college professors. The authors touch on how some legislation is now being enforced to stop the increase in prices and even professors who are offering their help by communicating with publishers to lower their costs.

Why this source is important: This source focuses on the problems surrounding increase prices in textbooks. Whether its professors or simply the publishers it is important for us to learn about those we are up against. This source unravels the tactics that publishers use to advertise their material and how we can save ourselves from being their victims. Also, it provides a solution not only to the increase of textbooks in the United States but in other countries as well.

What to do with this source: Honestly, this source gives us the tools to destroy the textbook market! Well not to the max! Seriously, this source can be used to inform others about the way that the textbook market is created and how they come up with these absurd prices.


Don’t blame professors for high cost of textbooks

By: Marie Ann Donovan

Summary: This source talks to students through the lens of a professor. They address the problem of professors being blamed for the high prices of college textbooks, when in reality professors are a victim themselves. Because these publishers are raising the prices, they have to design the learning curriculum around the financial difficulties of their students.

Why this source is important: This article is important because it gives the view of the ones being accused. People are here pointing the finger at professor for choosing these expensive books. It’s good that this source shows the other side of the argument, making it balance.

What to do with this source:  This source can be used to prove that we are all being victims of the publisher mafia! With this source we can also lift a finger at accusing professors that have good hearts and want to teach their students the best. Although, I think they can do so, in a cheaper matter.


OVERALL…These sources are all important to our understanding of the rise in textbook prices. They help provide the background information that we need, but also help clear that it is not entirely all professors out to get us! These sources are important in showing that this movement against college textbook is working…lets keep going!!!

The Evil Twin, the Seed of Satan – Digital Textbooks

A More Efficient Way for Publishers to Break Our Pockets  


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Last week, we began to discuss open-source textbooks, see YOU Have Been Cheated!, as a viable option to overpriced textbooks. After reading the post, that may have lead you to consider digital textbooks. They’re almost the same thing, right? Not really! The biggest difference is that open source textbooks are FREE and digital textbooks cost A LOT! Digital textbooks costs a few pennies less than print textbooks but can also be more expensive.

For 2 semesters I took Spanish to fulfill my language requirement for my English Education degree at UMD. Learning languages has never been my cup of tea and to make it worse the Spanish department required a supplemental online program that cost mucho dinero. There was no way around it! The school required it for all the classes. Without MySpanish Lab, the supplemental online program, it would be impossible for a student to receive above a 90% because MySpanishLab was 10% of the final grade. Even though I found the program helpful, it cost close to $100.That may not seem very expensive to you, but for me that was working a whole week at a beauty supply store making minimum wage.

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Why does it cost so much to run an online program? Even though the cartoon publisher says, “You’ve been misinformed”. I believe that there is a BAG OF MONEY that the publishers are hiding as the cartoon suggests. Even though publishers claim that digital textbooks are expensive because of the knowledge needed to create them, the Daily Illini, a publication by the University of Illinois, proves this to be inaccurate. In Johnathan Hettinger’s article, For most college professors, money made from own textbooks provides little, Hettinger reports that Bruce Levine, a professor at the University of Illinois, said that he was only making, “10 cents a copy for the 30 copies in the class [and] couldn’t believe the student’s outrage [when the students complained about him using his own textbooks]”. So where is the rest of this money going? PUBLISHERS!!!!

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Instead of publishers using online textbooks as a means to help alleviate the burden of textbook costs, they are taking part of the 77.4% they make and POCKETING IT! Don’t get me wrong, producing a book is labor intensive, but not that much!!!

In Digital Textbooks: Publishers and the Unrealized Promise, publishers are EXPOSED even further. The article says that, “The legacy publishers will tell you that they can’t make digital textbooks both high quality and affordable, but that’s not the issue. It’s that they don’t want to.” Why don’t they want to? BECAUSE they fear they will lose money. So how have they been trying to fix the problem of losing money? By offering the text for only 6 month access and providing low quality e-texts almost in hopes that students won’t purchase them.

Not only do students have to deal with the cost of e-texts, they also have to be concerned about the quality of the product. Byron Brown, a professor of economics at Michigan State University says, “Current e-texts are also a markedly inferior product. They are static PDF knockoffs of vertically oriented print pages. That means they don’t display well on most computer screens, and they resist printing an easy-to-read copy by inexplicably downsizing the fonts for home printing”.

Currently, only 15% of students choose the e-text over the print text. We have to do something about this!!!

We need to push publishers to

  • take the time to improve digital texts
  •  also push them to lower prices

Digital Textbooks don’t have to be the Evil Twin!!! Or the Seed of Satan!!!

Click here to sign Textbook Busters’ petition to publishers.

Are you serious!!! That’s soo unfair and not true!!

Image    Why do college textbooks cost so much? According to Ethan Trex author of “Why Are Textbooks So Expensive?,” textbooks are expensive because publishing a college textbook full of graphs, charts, illustrations, cost more than just a simple $10 Nicholas Sparks novel. That’s outrageous!! Publishers are you really going to charge college students for every single “.”?  That’s unfair; a majority of us college students are not dependent of our parents for money and can’t afford to pay $100- $200 for books.

They are simple out to get our money! Ethan Trex mentions that since professors choose the textbook, students don’t really have a say in what texts to pick. Although that is correct, professors need to be a bit more lenient with their students. I meant if you know you’re not going to use the textbook and only some articles, why not just scan and upload them as PDFs?  I believe publishers purposely target and market to professors. In “Why Do College Books Cost So Much?” Allen Grove mentions that, publishers make no money when used books are sold instead of new ones. That must be the reason why when we try selling our books to BookHolders they offer us less than what we bought them for! Publishers are smart, and make new editions every year, making the professor change the textbook. Meaning we’re busted and have to buy a new book. We can no longer use our friend’s book from last semester because it’s no longer “good.” That’s crazy, publishers change like one sentence in the old edition and add a couple of sentences here and we college students have to pay! Publishers are the ones adding the extra stuff to the pages, why not have them pay it!

It’s absurd!! Ethan Trex mentions in his article that “…many students aren’t all that price sensitive…” that’s false! Not all college students depend on mommy and daddy for money. As a working college student, it hurts my pocket every time I see those three-digit book prices. Not only that, but to know that you’re giving up your break to work just to pay off a simple “.”or new edition makes college textbook prices unfair. Publishers should be the ones paying a majority of these book cost and not the students. We didn’t tell you to publish the book with so many colors and pretty pictures!

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Typical parent-college student conversation about money for textbooks!

 

 

 

 

YOU Have Been CHEATED!

Intro to the Textbook Scam and Possible Solutions


 

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While it may seem unfair to compare textbook costs with prostitution, the caveman on the right is on to something. Textbooks are bringing in a lot of revenue. It’s almost as if publishing companies and authors (AKA universities and professors) sat around a table and said, “How can we make MORE money off of students?” The worst thing is that no one did anything to stop them. The purpose of this blog is to bring awareness to the tactics that big companies use to get rich and fatten the pockets of universities at the expense of students.

Students realize that textbooks are expensive, but most do not realize the extent to which they have been cheated. These sources have been compiled to get you mad, I mean concerned (smile), enough to take action.  This week we want to provide sources that really introduce you to the argument and show the history of the textbook cost rise and the beginnings to what we can do about it.


Fixing the Broken Textbook Market

By Ethan Senack / The Student PIRGs

Summary: This report has SOOO much information on the history of textbook expenses and what students think about the rise of textbook costs. This report specifically shows the findings and  research that has been done on this issue from surveying college students.This report also features things that students, faculty, and even law-makers can do to help with textbook costs.

Why this source is important:

One of the perks of this report is that it was written by a student with students in mind. This source is also very legitimate since it went through the hands of the PIRG. Since this was created with the student in mind it is very easy to read.

You will find intriguing facts like…

65% of students said that they had decided against buying a textbook because it was too expensive.

This research is important because it puts statistics to what you and other college students are feeling.

What to do with this source practically :

This source gives a great backdrop but also gives us the golden ticket to solving this problem, OPEN TEXTBOOKS! Maybe we should listen to him…


College Textbooks Cost Most Outrageous than Ever

By Herb Weisbaum

Summary: This video and article also do a great job of presenting the current status of textbook costs.  This source addresses.

  • Textbook prices are going higher than inflation.
  • Marketplace cost is in the hands of publisher which makes it easier for textbooks to be expensive.

Why this source is important:

This source is important because it is easy to listen to. Weisbaum takes many of the findings in this field and puts them into laymans terms. It is easily digestible.

What to do with this source practically :

Weisbaum presents some intriguing information and really convinces the reader that this can be fixed. He suggests that we explore open source textbooks.


Open-source textbooks in policy focus

By Jeremy Snow

Summary:

In a recent article, written by a University of Maryland student, Jeremy Snow discusses a possible option that could eliminate the price of textbooks. That’s right! Completely eliminate the price of textbooks. Open Source textbooks seem to be the answer to the problem. This article views what needs to be done to implement it.

Why this source is important:

This possible solution to the problem is important because it could significantly lower textbook costs to the lowest levels. This also directly impacts UM college students because it was written by our college newspaper.

What to do with this source practically:

Let’s promote this! This seems extremely promising. If we are able to convince school legislatures and other bodies to support this measure perhaps we can begin to have a little extra pocket change.


OVERALL…These sources are all important to our understanding of the textbook cost rise. We can all do little things to help. After becoming educated on the issue, take the first step and contact your legislature via this link. Together we can end absurd textbook prices.

It’s just not right…

It happens year after year, semester after semester. The time for us college students to shell out loads of money on 10 various textbooks for our 5 classes. The price of textbooks seems to be following the path of our already skyrocketing student loan debt. The price of textbooks is not only and economical and political issue, but an ethical one as well. How can colleges and universities require students to buy textbooks that they can’t afford? And what exactly are these textbook companies and publishers doing to ensure that their textbooks stay in demand and their prices stay so high?

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After some investigating, I discovered some of the tactics and schemes (that I believe to be unethical) the companies use to continue to profit off of us broke college kids.

In an article exploring the dirty tricks of the trade, David Miller, founder of SlugBooks, discusses two examples. One tactic textbook companies use is creating “custom edition” textbooks. These editions are only slightly different than the generic edition and offered at larger universities. By requiring students to buy these “custom” textbooks, Universities and publishers are able to prevent the sale and trade of used textbooks. The other tactic that Miller mentions is the newer technology of online textbook components. These online platforms are mostly used for homework submission. Miller explains the reasoning behind this practice, “If you want to buy the software license without the book, it’s $80, and if you buy it with the book, it’s $100. So they’re basically producing the software for nothing, then using it to require students to buy a brand new book.”

I have personally experienced the agony of paying for one of these online textbook components. For my Spanish class, the textbook and MySpanishLab online software were both required. When my friend told me she had taken the same Spanish course and would let me use her textbook, I thought “lucky me!”

Then on the first day of class I realized I wasn’t so fortunate…

$80 later, I felt as if I hadn’t saved anything!

I’m sure you can understand and share my frustration with throwing out extra money for unnecessary textbooks. I do not think it is ethical for these companies to continue to engage in these unfair practices. As students, our voices need to be heard. Our opinions matter! If people continue to expose these tricks, maybe we will see some lower prices in the near future!