Just this summer, I spent $164 on a math textbook in order to fulfill an LMU graduation requirement. I took Finite Mathematics at Santa Monica College, where all students were required to purchase the newest edition of “Finite Mathematics” by Howard L. Rolf. It felt like a particularly egregious request from a community college; after all, isn’t community college supposed to be the place where you can start your degree for a lower price? But it doesn’t really matter where you go, because whether you’re in high school, community college or a four-year university, you will be subject to extortionately priced textbooks — Loyola Marymount University is no exception.
As long as overpriced textbooks are required for classes, and as long as those classes are required to graduate, receiving your degree is contingent upon your ability to shell out an extra estimated $1,152 in textbook costs, in addition to the estimated $55,441 a year you already pay in tuition.
Since 1970, the price of textbooks has risen over 1000%. This is because, for almost its entire lifespan, the textbook industry has been “in contrast to many other countries … controlled almost entirely by private publishing enterprise with little involvement by federal and state governments.” This is according to M. Brammer, who turned his experience as an executive at the American Book Company into a chapter on the textbook industry in Charles Grannis’ 1957 compendium, “What Happens in Book Publishing.” In the textbook industry, there was barely time before titans like McGraw Hill, Pearson, Cengage and Wiley clogged the market with overpriced textbooks, anthologies, manuals and studies…Continue reading here.