Students don’t buy books

By Pedro Santos/Delta Staff Writer

It’s an age-old question for cash-strapped college students: Do I really need to buy the book for every class? For the majority of students at Missouri Valley College, the answer is “no.”

The Delta recently conducted a survey of 120 students on campus and found that a staggering 80% said they did not buy books for their classes and those who don’t always feel like they made the best choice.

Jamie Scott, a sophomore powerlifting athlete, said she did buy one textbook but kinda regretted it because it was too expensive, and also she does not use it very much.

Livia Toole, a student at Missouri Valley College, said that she does not buy textbooks because there are cheaper alternatives on the web. 

Many students surveyed said they look for free PDF versions of the required texts.

Yago Lozano, a senior at Valley, said he used to buy textbooks as a freshman, but through the years he noticed that he was spending a lot of money, so started to look for cheaper options, which he could afford in a comfortable way. 

According to the Education Data Initiative, the average annual cost of textbooks and supplies for full-time, undergraduate students at a four-year university was approximately $1240. The organization found that students at two-year public colleges spent the most ( an average of $1420) while students at private four-year colleges spent the least  ($1220 per year  with an average of $450 to $625 per semester).  

E-books are a popular alternative to traditional bound books because of their lower cost, but the price of those has also been on the rise. The Education Data Initiative found that the average cost for an e-book increased from $31 in 2019 to $38 in 2020.

But why are textbooks so expensive? One reason might be frequent, sometimes annual, revisions to textbooks.

According to, “The cost of college textbooks increased by 88% from 2006 to 2016, growing at a faster rate than college tuition and fees.”

There may be some relief for students’ wallets, however. According to the website, textbook prices did see a decrease of 26% between January 2017 and January 2019. This drop might be attributed to growth in other areas of the textbook market, as textbook rentals market almost doubled and e-book sales increased 95% during the same period. 

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