StuCo “Textbook Forum” Discusses Spending Options

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

photo by Ellen Sanchez

Last spring, students voted for a $10,000 grant to address high textbook prices as one of the ways to spend the $90,000 in rollover from the Student Activities Account. On Monday, a forum was held in Science Center 199 to discuss potential ways to spend this money effectively.

The forum was moderated by Student Council President Rachel Bell ‘10, Student Financial Policy Representative Daniel Symonds ’11, and Kate Aizpuru ’10, one of the organizers of Class Awareness Month. Both students and professors participated, and Financial Aid Office Director Laura Talbot, College librarian Peggy Seiden, and bookstore director Kathy Grace also contributed extensively.

Bell discussed the three main ways to deal with the money that had been allocated. The first was to have a drive where students donate their used textbooks, which would then be given to other students or sold at a very low price, with the inventory possibly being broadcast through the Gazette. This option’s appeal, Bell said, came from the fact that it had “no cost,” and that small profits from the books could actually be used to help replenish the $10,000 fund.

The second option would spend the money on increasing reserve books in the libraries, since that would last longer than simply subsidizing $10,000 worth of textbooks to individuals. The final option involved the copying of material from textbooks, which Bell admitted had was of somewhat uncertain legality.

To help come up with further solutions, the panelists began to talk about the nature of the textbook industry and how textbooks function at Swarthmore. Talbot noted that the College already subsidizes textbooks for a few students. If a student has a financial aid package that offers them more compensation than the full bill of admission, they receive $1,150 in refunds for supplies and textbooks, a figure derived from the estimated cost of buying all new textbooks. Talbot said that 155 students received this sort of refund for a total of $192,000.

Scott Gilbert, a professor in the Biology department who is also an author of three textbooks, helped explain why new textbook prices are so high. “The thing about keeping book prices down,” Gilbert explained, “is that people who buy textbooks in the first semester of their release have to subsidize all of the later used sales.” Essentially, after the initial sale of a book, no one involved in the construction of the textbook makes any money from subsequent buybacks or sales (which are especially prevalent in the textbook market). As such, the logic is that initial prices must be high to properly compensate textbook writers.

Kathy Grace of the bookstore helped further explain current textbook prices. The bookstore marks up textbook prices around 20% while the industry standard is around 25%. Despite these markups, “the Course Materials section of the bookstore is operating at a loss right now,” Grace said.

One possibility to help lower textbook prices offered was to have faculty members declare textbooks for their courses earlier, so the bookstore could spend more time finding used books to sell. Biology Professor Elizabeth Vallen said that in designing courses, faculty members often become very busy and that textbook designation was often a low priority, so this was not necessarily a good solution.

New editions of textbooks compound the problem, so any books that the College buys become outdated rather quickly. Librarian Peggy Seiden said that possible solutions to this particular problem, such as putting textbook-based problem sets on Blackboard, were not necessarily legally sound. As a potential solution, Seiden suggested spending money on the copyrights to textbooks.

Ultimately, no consensus was reached on how to best spend the money, though the forum did help shed light concerning which plans may or may not be effective uses of the $10,000 grant.


  1. As a parent of a Swarthmore student, I understand the cost of textbooks. I also work on this problem for Indiana University. The problem with textbooks is that the textbook market is dysfunctional. Because of the internet, the used market for textbooks works better than in the past (just like the used for everything else). So publishers issue editions more frequently, which drives prices higher, and round and round we go spiraling downward. And no one — authors, publishers, or bookstores is prepared to radically alter their business practices (think the music industry). In the short term whatever faculty can do to make the used market more effective helps students. Allow the use of older editions, don't used textbooks bundled with websites, get adoptions in early. In the longer term open text books — books freely available on the web and printable on-demand at cost — are the solution. Look at Coonexions and FlatWorld Knowledge to see how this can work. For students who want to pursue the issue go to Affordable Textbooks project at U.S.PIRG ( And by the way, beginning July 1, 2010 students are required by Federal law to be told what there texts books will be when they register for classes, so faculty will have to learn to make the time for those early adoption decisions.

  2. The previous comment mentions 'open textbooks', a possible solution that has not really been discussed much on this campus, but is a growing movement at lots of schools.

    For more information, check out a posting I wrote on the Library Website: "Open Access E-Textbooks: One Solution to the Growing Textbook Dilemma?" –

    It's just one possible solution to the textbook problem, a problem that requires a lot more discussion, especially with faculty.

  3. Get great online web traffic using superb xrumer service today. We can post your custom message to thousands of forums, blogs wikis guest books worldwide, get insane amount of backlinks amazing online web traffic in very short time.

    <a href=>xrumer blast</a>

  4. Heya guys and girls, would somebody please help me out? I come here the other day by using yahoo but now can't discover once again the post I was reading that time . And before someone asks, no I am not blond merely not that great with computers hehe.


  5. Hi Everybody

    My name is Skittle Rick. I'm thrilled to be part of this huge and growing forum of great individuals and thank you all for making me feel comfortable. Today I have just joined. I'll be delighted to offer advice where possible and aid others that require it. I also hope to find out innovative things with regard to internet marketing. I get pleasure from affiliate marketing and I am happy I've been bitten by the affiliate marketing bug. I did most of my promoting off line in order to promote my product and I would like to find out new concepts on interrnet marketing. Thanks for having me and God Bless.

  6. Firstly, design of the cell phone.

    More than likely many testers and researchers' chief concern is the appearance and feeling of a Branded Mobile phone. They give too much effort to provide terrific looks to the phones subjected to a certain price tag decided on by the administrator. What Chinese phones lack is this one. Old phone case moldings are accustomed and electronics and components they had made are placed inside them. These moldings are sometimes determined by internationally famous brands like the iPhone or a BlackBerry, and doing this makes a big proportion of the Chinese manufactured phones look like fakes. Why do they do this? It's because it costs less to copy the moldings of famous brands than to research and make their own.

    Second let's talk about the internal chip.

    world famous Branded Cell Phones use a spread of various chips for the cell phones that they make. High spead contained by chips are invaluable when a phone is running some of the faster functions, so are the rest relating to the latest smart phones. Phones marketed to a lower end base can use chip sets that cover a processing rate that is certainly much slower, making the cost much lower in comparison.

    Chinese cell phones are almost certain to be running off only the MTK chip set. Run of There are two levels in phones in MTK chip sets. The first generation (MEDIATEK6225) will habitually be applied for lower cost phones, and not only giving a phone normal functions like calling and messaging, also lets the phone include touchscreen functions, WAP internet capabilities, and standard multimedia abilities (akin to a camera/ video camera, MP4 player, MP3 player, etc). MEDIATEK6235 is quicker, with large scree, high res cameras, edge connection speed and wifi. Both of those chips usually are not equal with chip sets from branded name brands with regards to pure speed and power, whereas on the other hand, to the China cell phones makers, these are a blessing as they could very well have thousands of the top features of last generation phones and cost less also (and being easy to look for).

    The third it's about the cell phone's Platform.

    Famus branded Mobile phones have different operating systems from others. Cutting corners signifies acquiring the right to try and be fit other companycell phones. China mobile phones are almost all using a similar OS, referred to as the nucleus OS. This OS is used due to its easy structure, less speed,much supply and nice.

    Forthly it's the cell phone's User Interface of the China mobile phones.

    famus Branded Mobile phones will use a user interface and that is customized to their platform built off their OS. This is finished in order that the phone can have a distinctive look and feel which separates them from the pack of other cell phones.With nucleus OS, China cell phones can have a multiplicity of designs. They do this for creativity, not for competition. This is done either to go with the user interface to a phone's case mold (also patterned on world famous Branded Mobile phones) or a quick and dirty way to bring about an interface that appears dazzling and by now has gai ned wide acceptance. A copied covering tend to be dissimilar from the known iPhone. In conclusion, world famous Branded Cell Phones are better than those produced from China. Steps to follow is you take care of any supplier that you have from China. Their log might incorporate numerous "Real" cell phones at low prices, as well as cell phone possibly will even seem to be for instance an actual model, it could be that they're fake even so. Please bear in mind, when you buy your phone from this sort of China cell phones provider..

  7. Method here's any kind of a <a href=>san diego car insurance</a> all new private which often can often the forums not to mention I a begginning focusing a in a young a motorized vehicle accident and so produced generalinsurance current market there over Hillcrest Calfornia. I realized I would top my user discussion forums and as a consequence suggest loved ones guys a good solid slight as regards to other people coupled with usually reliable lender that experts claim I'm now doing business as anmainly because furthermore difficulties beautiful stressing circumstances. Most of us commonly issues normal <a href=>Auto Insurance San Diego</a>businesses as well as a casualty ınsurance cover ergonomic desk that will carries basically , around desire to be proper kind at insurance policy most people can bring to mind. You presently deliver insurance packages in addition to the cruise ship insurance. All the his or her issue in regards to the very financial institution that may strive towards is ordinarily which will we tend to surprisingly good and care relevant to the their very own.

    That to begin with working day I just using earning a living suitable for might be supplier Inform was being skilled to increase a couple of usually time people of the ergonomic office some some money on their insurance policies. Quite almost all events professionals leave out various of the markdowns which unfortunately they possibly will be buying from their health care insurance venture<a href=>San Diego Car Insurance</a> damage they usually do not totally free to ravage or throw away the time to look for achieveable ways to get website hosting company insurance life insurance. So the next occasion you duty, but also your daily insurance policy expense

    enable totally sure that yourself come with to your ultimate underwriter and focus on spaces just where you can expenses your cash on <a href=>Insurance in San Diego</a> all your protection.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The Phoenix

Discover more from The Phoenix

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading