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## How The Used Textbook Market Is Marginalized By Interests Adverse To Those Of University Students

College and university students have a love-hate relationship with textbooks. On the one hand, students can get high marks for mastering the material presented in these books. On the other hand, textbooks are notoriously expensive, costing up to $200 for a single book. However, the fact is that students have to buy the books to get high grades. This is a fact that the multibillion dollar textbook industry uses to capitalize on students’ dependence on textbooks.

Many people suspect that textbooks are overpriced, meaning that the retail cost far exceeds the cost of producing and distributing the books. Many think that the publishers pocket the vast majority of the profits. The intuition of these individuals may be plausible for the following reasons.

First, new editions of books on century-old subjects are published at least every two years. For example, the origin of calculus dates back to 1800 BC. And although the discipline has developed from that time until the 19th century AD, there has been no revolutionary development in this discipline of mathematics since the beginning of the 20th century. The same is often true of various math subjects, including statistics and basic college-level math.

Therefore, by releasing new editions of textbooks almost annually, publishers attempt to disrupt the used textbook market. However, publishers would not be able to impose these new editions of textbooks on students if it were not for college and university professors who usually require students to purchase the latest edition of textbooks, although the difference between the current edition and the previous one is the rearrangement of a chapter of the book.

Thus, the interests of textbook publishers and teachers regarding new textbook editions are adverse to the interests of college and university students. However, this is the reality facing students today amid the immensely rising costs of higher education.

What can students and teachers do to reduce the blatant reselling of books presented as new editions? Teachers should ask publishers about pricing information between new and previous editions to determine if the additional cost is justifiable to students. Teachers should also ask the publisher what material changes between editions and verify the answer for themselves. Students should notify teachers when they see minute changes between current and previous versions of textbooks.

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