In early February, Senator Darrell Steinberg introduced Senate Bill 1052 and Senate Bill 1053 to make textbooks more affordable in California’s higher education system. These two bills aim to reduce textbook prices, to make textbooks available in digital copies, and to have more copies of textbooks reserved in libraries. Many students are already struggling with paying for their textbooks due to the spring semester’s arrival, but they find their own ways to keep the spending down.
“I usually purchase my textbooks online, and I spend about $300 on textbooks every semester,” said Stephanie Stopani, 20, business major. Stopani purchases her textbooks online because they are about 50 percent cheaper than buying them at the Mt. SAC bookstore. “It is still a hassle because it takes seven to 10 business days for my books to arrive and that leaves me behind on schoolwork, but I would rather wait than pay double the money,” Stopani said. Christine Arias, 23, merchandise and marketing for fashion major, agreed with Stopani and also purchases all her textbooks online. Arias spends less than $200 on buying her textbooks for minimum three classes. “I get my textbooks from chegg.com or rent them because it is too expensive at the bookstore,” Arias said. “The fact that I could just rent a book and return it so I won’t have books piling up at my home, and I don’t have to worry about having to sell it back or to other students just makes it easier.”
Students like Stopani are pleased that the government is making an effort to make things easier for college students, but also have their reservations about the planned changes.
“I think these proposals suggest great ideas and that Mt. SAC as well as other schools should obtain this proposal because it would facilitate learning,” Stopani said. “But the ultimate solution to this problem is to just have easier access to textbooks overall, such as making them cheaper and having access to them online.”
Arias had a different take on the proposal.
Although she agreed with reducing textbook prices overall, she said she is concerned about how students and professors will adapt to using electronic devices rather than having the actual textbooks in hand. “I think these proposals are great ideas, but it is challenging to have people switch over from having textbooks in hands to just flipping through pages on screens,” said Arias. “Also I don’t know how will professors react to having students using their iPods or iPads in class because some professors have strict policies toward having electronics in class.”
Janet Nguyen, a 19-year-old English major, agreed. “As for the online edition textbooks, though that sounds great, I’m unsure of how effective that will actually be since even the digital versions are still expensive,” she said.