Megan Ruiz, a junior on the softball team, was surprised and delighted to discover that five of her assigned course readings are available at no cost to herself as ebooks via the Affordable Materials Project (AMP). Combating the rising costs of textbooks, Falvey Memorial Library has worked to provide affordable options through AMP, helping students like Megan reduce the cost of course materials. Megan spoke with me about her take on textbook costs and strategies for managing this expensive but inevitable part of the college experience.
During her first year, Megan recalled that she had to spend about $300 on books, remarking that “certainly isn’t pocket change.” At the same time, she empathized with friends in the School of Nursing who routinely spend $800-$900 on textbooks. Megan noticed that her spending patterns have changed as she has progressed through her college career. Introductory math and science courses necessitated purchasing expensive classic textbooks, whereas now that she is taking more advanced classes in the Department of Communication she needs fewer textbooks and more scholarly and academic books. Each book costs less, but more readings are assigned.
Most classic textbook publishers don’t license their ebooks to libraries because they don’t want to jeopardize their revenue flows. One approach to pushing back on exceedingly expensive textbooks that faculty are adopting is to choose open educational resources (OER). Moreover, libraries have been advocating for the ability to license unlimited simultaneous user digital editions for some time. More and more academic and scholarly publishers are responding favorably, resulting in Falvey’s success with making 176 assigned books available digitally to students this semester.
Some students prefer print books over digital, but Megan isn’t bothered by using online texts and appreciates it when faculty post readings on Blackboard. She’s comfortable highlighting PDF’s the same way she would a physical book and prints out short readings when she feels the need to annotate them with notes.
Megan has used a number of strategies to minimize what she spends on course materials, some more successful than others. Once she chose to purchase a less expensive online book over the print textbook, but circumstances forced her to switch classes. Frustratingly, Megan was left with an ebook that she didn’t need and couldn’t return or sell back. She’s occasionally found better prices on Amazon. Megan noticed that sometimes faculty require books that they may plan to use, but for whatever reason never get to. She’s adopted a just in time approach, by to waiting buy books until the point in the semester when they will be used.
Before the five notices about the digital books assigned in several of her classes flowed into her email box, Megan had never heard of AMP. The direct cost savings has caught her attention! Stop by the library to talk with your subject librarian, or visit Falvey’s website to learn more about AMP and how you can save money on course materials.
Article by Linda Hauck, Business Librarian. Photo by Kallie Stahl, Communication and Marketing Specialist.
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