For decades, college students have been challenged by the high cost of textbooks.
Years ago, a student could take a little comfort in the fact that about half the purchase price of many of their books could be recouped at the end of the class by reselling the text back to a bookstore, which, would turn around and sell the used book for two-thirds of the original, new book price. Seemed like the only one coming out OK in that system was the book store.
Fast forward to today's skyrocketing prices for college-level textbooks and you wonder how students can afford the costs, especially after having to pay rising tuitions fees.
Washington State Community College, for one, has recognized the problem. The college recently submitted a plan to the Ohio Board of Regents to cope with textbook prices, which have gone up 6.6 percent from 2010 to2011 and up 70 percent since 2002, according to officials at Washington State.
Jennifer Davis, director of bookstore operations, was quoted in a store in The Times' weekend edition that textbooks that cost $200 used to the exception and that now the normal price if $150. At those prices it's easy to see why students struggle to buy textbooks.
Washington State's idea, submitted to the state, calls students to be able to choose from multiple textbooks in hopes of finding a bood deal on one or the other. But this plan offers limited savings.
Washington State has started a textbook rental program. Four titles were available in the fall and plans call for adding titles throughout this year and next.
E-books are another alternative to traditional textbooks. The hope at the WSCC bookstore is to offer 15 percent of its titles electronically in 2012-13. One traditional textbook costs $230 versus $155 as an e-book.
We sympathize with the plight of students, who are somewhat of a captive audience. They need the books for their WSCC studies, but often can't afford the rising prices.
While there's no way to completely avoid the high cost of texts for college classes, Washington State, especially its bookstore staff, deserves praise for exploring an array of options for its students.
Hopefully, there's some relief ahead. Washington State is trying to be a leader in that hunt for relief. We hope all students are able to gain access to the books they need.