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Petitioners seek drop in university textbook prices

September 26, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The high cost of college tuition isn't the only obstacle for students trying to get a higher education. Textbooks have become so pricey that a movement is now under way to demand affordable alternatives.

Anyone who has paid for a college education knows how the prices of books and supplies never seem to stop climbing.

According to the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG), a $200 textbook is now common for California university and college students. Some classes bundle the textbooks with other books and jack up the prices even more.

It can make for some tough choices for students like USC sophomore Alexis Martin.

"Pretty much it has to make me think of the choices of either getting this textbook here, getting it now, waiting for this class for another semester. So it can actually change when I should schedule certain things," said Martin.

CALPIRG volunteers gathered signatures from USC students Monday morning. The petitions demand affordable textbooks and alternatives when available.

Volunteers will also petition community colleges, where the costs of textbooks and supplies can rise to 72 percent of tuition and fees.

Research by CALPIRG found seven in 10 college students decided not to purchase one or more textbooks because of the high costs.

Even professors like Dr. Gene Bickers say the high cost of textbooks is a real problem.

"The market in some cases is controlled by maybe five or six publishers in certain fields. And so to talk about market forces is difficult when you are talking about textbooks," said Bickers, a physics professor at USC.

Five or six hundred dollars a semester is not unheard of for textbooks, sometimes even higher, depending on the courses.

"Over time if we keep beating the drum and implementing whatever solutions we have it is eventually going to force prices down," said Nicole Allen, CALPIRG textbook advocate.

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