By Re’nesia Mills, Staff Writer
It’s a nationwide fact that college books and materials are expensive for students. Students often complain about high book prices.
PPCC Bookstore staff offer explanations for how textbooks are priced and ways in which textbook profits can potentially benefit PPCC’s students.
Lorelle Davies, PPCC’s Director of Auxiliary Services who oversees the functions of the bookstore said, “the interesting thing is that the actual cost of textbooks has continued to decline over the years. Most of our average textbook costs are under $100 at PPCC.”
PPCC student Jalen Johnson believes textbooks are too expensive and said, “I struggled in some of my classes because I did not have sufficient funds to purchase a textbook.”
Another PPCC student, Rey Ganoy said, “I feel textbooks are reasonably priced, but I don’t recommend buying a book used if you have an online class because you’re adding the cost of a used book plus the price of the online class pass.”
Most of the textbooks which line the walls of the bookstore are over $100, but staff at the bookstore provide explanation for how the average price of textbooks is determined.
Davies explained that the average rate of textbooks is calculated using a list of all textbooks which are adopted, and also said that the bookstore’s role is not in choosing books.
Davies said, “faculty pick the book, faculty select those materials. The publishers tell the faculty the cost of those materials when they adopt them prior to it ever coming to the bookstore.”
The bookstore’s responsibility is to source the textbooks which faculty tell them students need. Then, bookstore staff purchase the texts in multiple formats, and they try to get the materials as cheaply as they possibly can.
“Any profits stay at the institution and stay with the students. Most of that money goes back into services for the students, not off into Barnes & Noble,” said Davies.
Johnson said, “I want to support the bookstore, due to the fact that the bookstore donates the profit to student organizations and programs.”
“It makes me want to support the bookstore more because the more money we spend the more money we get to fund student causes,” said Ganoy.
The Open Education Resource trend may help alleviate book costs for students. Though college personnel often refer to OER as a movement, OER is not a new concept.
“I first started working with OERs nearly 20 years ago and they’ve been around much longer than that so this “movement” is nothing new, it just hasn’t been adopted by faculty for various reasons. Some of the reasons OERs have not been adopted include quality of material, lack of instructor resources, no learning platform or management system, the information is not in an accessible format, and there is no compensation to faculty for designing materials,” said Steve Dunn, PPCC’s Course Materials manager.
Dunn said, “I process nearly 600 adoptions per semester and deal with many of the faculty, department chairs and decisions makers and only a few have asked about adopting OERs. I think the biggest challenge to OER is the lack of LMS (MyLabs, Connect, ALEKS, etc).”
Faculty may not ask to implement OERs due to a lack of knowledge of how OERs can potentially benefit their students.
Associate Professor Emily Forand said, “I am not sure that all educators know about their benefits to students, though. Some of my colleagues believe that buying a textbook is just a rite of passage for college students, and they are less inclined to pursue this option, but my colleagues in CCR have been mostly open to the use of OER.”
Although a lack of faculty has asked about adopting OER into their course curriculum, that is not to say that faculty is against the idea of adopting the material for their students.
“My hope is that OER is a small part of a larger conversation about making higher education more accessible, affordable, and effective,” said Forand.
PPCC English Professor Sarah McMahon said, “OERs signify a shift in information publication and literacy. The internet is clearly full of information already available at no cost. To my mind, it’s becoming harder to justify why we ask students to pay large amounts of money for the same information that exists elsewhere. That’s not to say that all information is trustworthy.”
While McMahon is in favor of incorporating OER into course curriculums she still likes and supports the idea of textbooks.
“Recent research even shows that physical copies of books and paper (and cursive writing for that matter!) help students understand and retain information better than constant digital interaction,” McMahon said.
For More information on OER:
*Correction: In an earlier article on this subject, The Paper didn’t have its facts correct. Our apologies to Lorelle Davies and the PPCC Bookstore staff who work tirelessly to make sure students have the materials they need for their classes.