Inflation in textbook prices deflates student interest

The high cost of textbooks caused Point Park students like Anna Dobbins, Akilah Brooks and Alexandria Bright to turn to the age-old practice of sharing.

Freshman Anna Knoblach discovered an app called “Kno” that offers the use of textbooks without physically purchasing them.

Even the University’s bookstore has gotten into the act to keep book costs down by offering rentals, e-rentals and the traditional purchasing of books.

With college textbook costs rising remarkably fast – a study by USA Today says they have rocketed up 82 percent over the past decade – students at Point Park and elsewhere have sought to reduce the costs by finding other methods to get material without spending hundreds of dollars for a book.

 “I had a lot of textbooks this semester because I’m taking a lot more academics. I had four books for two classes and then I had my Spanish book from last semester,” said 21-year-old Bright.

It is no surprise to see more struggling students going book-free during the semester in order to stay afloat financially, according to the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) report “Fixing the Broken Textbook Market.” This often leaves students in a position where buying a required book is out of the question. It also has students finding a new way to consume the same knowledge, but in a more modern way.

Dobbins, like many college students, opted out of the unwanted surplus of books and bills and forwent buying any print materials for class.

“There were two required textbooks that I didn’t buy,” Dobbins said “I didn’t buy them because I can share them with other people in my class.”

Dobbins did not want to pay for the books and deemed it unnecessary because her fellow classmates already attained the readings and she could share with them.

More times than not, students are caught in a situation where they buy the required textbooks and it does not make more than one trip to class, at least according to Brooks’ experience.

“The teachers just don’t use them at all. And if they do, it’s only a couple pages, and then at that point I’ll just use a friend’s or something,” Brooks said.

Brooks, also decided to pass on buying or renting required textbooks this semester.

Then there are students like Bright with a full course load and a haul of books to show for it. Out of eight books, she chose to only rent one this semester.

“Usually I’ll rent them here, or sometimes if they’re really cheap I’ll buy them off Amazon,” Bright said.

Shopping around for the best book prices is key. Sites like Amazon and Chegg are hotspots to find good deals on college textbooks.

“My roommate and I are in one of the same classes and we’re sharing books she rented from Chegg,” Bright said.

Chelsea Blake, the assistant manager of the Barnes and Noble bookstore on campus, says that the most popular form of college reads are still the physical textbooks.

“We offer rental titles as well as purchased, new and used, and also the purchase of e-textbooks or e-rental textbooks,” Blake said from behind the bookstore counter.

Knoblach is taking a more digital approach to college textbooks.

“There’s an app called Kno textbooks and I just rent them on there for six months,” Knoblach said.

Thanks to this free app, Knoblach was fortunate enough to not have to buy a single physical textbook this semester.

“It’s definitely a lot cheaper to rent them. A lot of places you only rent them for three months or four months, and this you rent it for six,” she said.

After the six-month period, the book is removed from the app.

There’s no saying that e-books will become popular anytime soon at Point Park because of the constant battle with the school’s Wi-Fi.

“Through the nation they are [becoming more popular], but here on this campus not too much because of the wireless issue,” Blake said.