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Textbooks sold overseas equal savings

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It is coming. We are about halfway there. Yes, the time to buy textbooks for next semester is getting closer everyday.

Each semester students dread taking that walk to the bookstore to buy their textbooks. Why? Because a hefty price tag usually comes with those required texts.

According to the College Board, students spent between $727 and $807 for textbooks and supplies for the 2002-2003 school year. Often students charge the amount to their credit card, putting them in debt.

With the Internet at their fingertips, students have found ways to save a few bucks on textbooks. Amazon.com is among those sites that students have found to give them a better price for textbooks.

Although Amazon has been a godsend to students, there is another revolution in textbook prices. The new trend in online textbook purchasing is by shopping on Web sites based overseas. Sites like www.amazon.co.uk are selling books well below the United States selling price.

In a non-scientific comparison of books purchased by University of La Verne students, the required text for CHEM 280, “World of Chemistry Essentials” third edition, is sold for $82.50 new. At www.amazon.com the same book is sold for $67.95, while at www.amazon.co.uk it is sold for $46.69 (after currency conversions).

Buying this textbook through a Britain-based Web site leaves more money in students’ pockets.

So why do U.S. students have to pay more than students in Britain?

Some sources say it is because students overseas are more likely to pirate a high priced book. Others say it is because there are different market conditions in foreign countries.

In 1998, the Supreme Court ruled that federal copyright laws do not protect American manufacturers from having their products sold overseas at a discounted price in the United States.

Whether a comprehensive answer is available, the thought of buying a new textbook that is more than $100 in the ULV Bookstore is easily sold for $50 on overseas Web sites.

According to the National Association of College Stores, about half of all students do not purchase all the required texts because of high price.

Students generally find a friend who has the same book, share the cost with a friend in the class, or some borrow the book from a friend ­ as needed for homework and studying.

Often times students do not have a choice but to purchase a new book when a professor requires the new edition, which only differs in chapter order or page numbering.

Granted, once a new edition of a textbook is printed, it automatically becomes obsolete because publishers will no longer produce additional copies.

If the book still has the same information, what is the need to upgrade to a new edition?

Instead professors could continue to use the same book for a couple more semesters so students can continue to save money on a used copy.

In a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, professors admitted to requiring new textbooks because they had been paid to do so by publishers.

While we do not believe that happens here, it is a rude awakening to find that some professors across the country are partly responsible for high textbook prices.

Publishers try to stop the overseas shopping trend by incorporating restrictions into a contract with foreign vendors. These restrictions prohibit foreign wholesalers from selling to distributors in the United States.

Illinois and Minnesota have passed legislation that encourages libraries at state universities to establish textbook rental programs.

If a rental program were established at ULV, students would save a lot of money.

For example, a $120 textbook that is used for two years, which is equivalent to four semesters, can be rented per semester for a small fee. By the time the new edition comes out, the rental fees have paid for the book.

If a student wants to keep a book, he or she can buy it at full price.

Textbooks used for limited readings can be put on reserve in the library by the instructor, which would save students money or having to buy a book that is sparsely used in class.

Now that the Internet is available to all students, through a campus computer lab or their dorm room, publishers should look into eBooks.

Making textbooks available online with through an online subscription would almost eliminate costs for students and they would be able to access their book from any computer.

With the compounding costs of attending ULV, anything that can be done to save students money is much appreciated.


Additional Book Price Comparisons

MUS 100: “The Enjoyment of Music”
ULV Bookstore: $89.00
www.Amazon.co.uk: $39.19 (£23.00)

HIST 110: “Liberty, Equality, Power”
ULV Bookstore: $100.25
www.Amazon.co.uk: $50.03 (£30.00)

PSY101: “Psychology”
ULV Bookstore: $97.50
www.Amazon.co.uk: $58.66 (£34.99)

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