Opinion: How much money do you spend on textbooks?

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Taylor Fennel is a freshman from San Diego, California. She is majoring in general business, and is a member of Alpha Gamma Delta. She works on campus for the event operations in the Student Union Building.

College students spend around $1,200 a year on textbooks or $600 a semester. In the end of the four plus years that students spend at a university, this cost adds up. Although it may seem just another cost in the costly education system that the United States has, it is also a cost that can easily be cut down. Textbooks should be offered to students online to lower the cost of the textbook, but also make the textbook interactive, easier to use, and even help save the environment.

While I was in high school, I received free used textbooks that I would use for the year and then turn them back in to the school at the end of the school year. College does not offer this benefit and expects college students like myself and everyone around me to buy their own textbooks. According to Brian Evans from Foothill College, Evans surveyed 253 students where roughly half of them were using a print textbook while the other half was using an online textbook. The comparison of the two textbooks was that the printed version was $86.63, while the online textbook was $24.76. By using online textbooks, college students can save two thirds of their money by viewing the text on their computer, tablet, or smartphone without experiencing the heavy cost of using a textbook for just one semester.

Last year in my Business 101 class, I was required to buy an interactive access code that allowed me to interact with my textbook. It was the first time using the program for my professor but led to success as her average midterm test grades increased by 7%. The interactive textbook highlighted key parts of the text that were important for me to know and as I read, I answered questions on the information I was reading to allow me to better understand the information. Through this online interactive textbook, I was able to spend less money on the physical textbook and get the benefit of experiencing an interactive textbook that improved my understanding of the information.

Physical textbooks’ information is not accessed through a computer, tablet, or smartphone but through a flip of the page. Million of tons of paper are used each year to print textbooks for students to use, but thousands of papers are thrown away to litter our planet. In A Research Study on Textbook Recycling in America by Laura S. Hickey and Kristy M. Jones, they concluded that “approximately 640,000 tons are discarded into the landfill. Books comprise roughly 0.4 percent of total municipal solid waste generation.” By allowing college students to access to online textbooks, the waste caused by printed textbooks can be cut down substantially. With the new day and age of technology, textbooks should follow the trend and go digital.

PDF textbooks are a great way for college students to access the information they need wherever they are. An online textbook can be used to read, interact, and even quickly look up certain key words easily without having to flip to the index for the correct page number. For students who want to hold a physical paper in their hand can print the entire PDF version or certain chapters. The PDF version of a textbook has that luxury of staying completely digital but also be able to be access through print with still a lower price. PDF textbooks are beneficial in so many ways and can benefit the users with the need to a physical copy.

Online textbooks are a need through the growing twenty-first century. The cost of college is very expensive and having access to a textbook at a substantially lower price can save college students thousands of dollars. Online textbooks are on the path of improving students’ knowledge through interaction with the book and accessibility to the book everywhere they go. By purchasing online textbooks, we are saving money and the environment one day at a time.


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