For the past year, incoming college students have been forced to listen to a disgusting amount of advice from everyone they know. I won’t burden anyone by listing out any of these travesties, mostly because it would be redundant and hypocritical. All I will say: the amount of advice a student receives is borderline painful.
Through all of the noise, one note clearly resonates: textbooks are going to be expensive; so expensive, the absurdity of it will keep students up late at night.
Sometime after the last great war and before the hippy revolution, some tycoons in suits decided students were not burdened with enough adversity. To them, it’s better to handicap the typical student with a laundry list of textbook payments than allow them any room to breathe.
In my research, I came across an article in the New York Post. The author, Gregory Bresiger, asked Alex Neal, the CEO of Campusbooks.com, about the reason for overly-expensive books.
“Since the publishers don’t make any money off used-book sales, their business model is to make the old editions obsolete and force you to buy the new book,” Neal said.
In a nutshell, the big guys figured out if they could recycle old textbooks and publish them as new editions, they could strangle more profit out of consumers. Every year, new editions. Over and over again.
First, I must praise the publishers for their brazen plan. In a society that cares so much about the younger generation and the youth vote, it takes a real audacious group of people to screw over America’s darling children and then ask their parents to pay for it. With a basic understanding of an economic construct, I can somewhat empathize with the publishers; they would be fools to alter a business plan that generates absurd profits. After my many hours of research, I can predict the system is solid and likely will not be brought down in the next few years, no matter how much the youth moan.
But from the student’s perspective, none of the economic reasons justify the cost. They will just see publishing companies acting upon ugly, capitalistic impulses and cry foul: “But it’s evil and corrupt for the publishers to unnecessarily update books every year just for a profit,” they will shout. And they are right, it is evil and corrupt — but the system benefits the publishers, so they have no inclination for a structure change.
This article, for example, will never reach the ears of some big-time textbook publisher in New York. He will never stop and read this and think “Oh darn! How could I be screwing over college kids like this? I have been neglectful in my position of CEO for this company. I must do something about their predicament, even if it costs me my job!”
He will not rush down from his comfortable office and into the the conference room, exclaiming his newfound wisdom and integral thinking. His bosses will not nod their heads in agreement and sign a new business plan that will make up for years of greedy exploitation.
None of these things will happen because there is still a profit to be made.
Hunter Brawley is a freshman columnist. Follow him on Twitter @thebrawley9.