Since ancient times, books used to be a rare commodity. Until public schools were introduced to the world en masse, the majority of the populace remained illiterate, and even less knew how to write. That, coupled with the fact that the books had to be written by hand rather than printed on a press, made them extremely expensive and affordable only to the rich and powerful. With the invention of the printing press, all of that was ought to change. The costs and times of producing books were significantly improved, which allowed a larger audience to afford them. Nowadays, every learning facility is equipped with thousands of books and other learning materials. Still, despite the advances and progress of technology coupled with universal access to the databases around the internet, Florida National University still struggles with providing its students with books at a fair and affordable price.
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The problem with the book prices plagues most of the universities in the USA. This issue is not unique to FNU alone. According to the recent College Board Report, an average student spends from 1000 to 1500 dollars a year on textbooks alone (Hill 1). That is a very large sum, especially considering that jobs available to students usually earn them about 1700 dollars a month. This issue has been causing public outrage for quite some time. Many journalists and analysts reflected on it in numerous articles.
The Causes of the Problem
There are two reasons why books are being so expensive. The first one is copyright and the second one is the constant process of updates and additions made to every edition of the book (“Required reading: here’s why textbooks are so expensive” par 4). This forces the universities to make the students buy the books themselves, as they are unable to shoulder the burden of purchasing countless books yearly just to accommodate the most recent influx. If, in the past, certain books were considered valid for decades before the information within them “expires,” nowadays the publishers release a new edition practically every year. It is very profitable for the publishing companies that would never run out of customers, since having a high education is a necessity to obtain a job these days.
There are several things a university could do in order to ease the burden on the students. While certain sciences may require constant updating to keep up with the newest trends and discoveries made in the field, many areas such as mathematics, linguistics, physics, and chemistry do not require a yearly update on the materials. The student library should be able to provide these books to students free of charge, so long as they return them back. Another thing a university can do is promote government programs that would shoulder some of the expenses. Sure, the voice of a singular university representative might not be heard in Congress, but if the universities of America stand together on this issue, significant progress could be made.
High education in the US has numerous issues and problems unique to the country, with the costs being a primary concern. Solving the problem with book costs could be a step towards improving the situation for the students or graduates, who frequently find themselves in tremendous debt by the end of their course.
Hill, Phil. How Much Do College Students Actually Pay For Textbooks? Web.
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