The UW-Madison Office of Undergraduate Admissions estimates the cost for books and supplies at $930 for the 2007-08 academic year. A recent UW System analysis put the current costs for textbooks at the Madison campus at $890 annually. By the end of their undergraduate careers, most students will have paid close to $4,000 for textbooks.
Campuses, faculty and students all have roles to play in reducing the escalating costs of textbooks, which have risen at twice the rate of inflation in recent years. Campuses can consider rental programs or make more textbooks available in college libraries. Faculty can announce which texts they're using in the coming semester as early as possible, so that students and bookstores have time to plan and shop for the best prices. Faculty can also resist unnecessary new editions of textbooks they have authored, as well as the use of bundled products, in which textbooks are packaged with study guides and CDs.
Students can search for the best buys and, if a proposed ASM program is launched, they can buy used texts directly from fellow students. This program — which would sponsor both opportunities for students to drop off their used books for sale and opportunities for students in search of books to browse these offerings — would benefit both buyers and sellers.
I congratulate ASM on undertaking this textbook swap program. As a consumer science professor, I also appreciate its importance and encourage students to take advantage of it.
Robin A. Douthitt, Dean
School of Human Ecology