Books break students’ banks

By Gus Bode

Intermediate Accounting … $183.75.

Basic Engineering Circuit Analysis … $165.

Organic Chemistry with Other … $215.80.


The hope for rental or electronic textbooks … not just priceless, but also very unlikely, according to Jamere Hill.

Hill, a sophomore from Peoria studying finance, broke the $500 mark for textbooks Thursday when he paid $140 for his last book. Hill said prices have risen out of control and the university should offer some relief.

“The prices are ridiculous,” Hill said. “I don’t know what the university can do but there has to be something.”

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville offers a book rental system that sometimes allows students to use multiple books for the price of one. The rental rate for the standard 15 credit hours is $153.75 for the fall semester.

Larry Dietz, vice chancellor for student affairs, said it would be nice to offer a rental service, but SIUC’s status as a research institution makes it impossible.

Dietz said the university could not enter into a rental contract because it would require keeping the same textbook for multiple years.

“Areas like engineering and computer technology move so fast we need to keep the information updated,” Dietz said. “If we are going to the do the research, it wouldn’t be beneficial to tell the students four years after we get new information.”


For now, Dietz said the university encourages professors to order their textbooks early to avoid the high prices companies charge when the supplies become limited.

Because core classes require less advanced material that does not change as often, those books could be more affordable, one student leader said.

Undergraduate Student Government Chiquita Watts said she has pitched the idea of electronic textbooks to administrators.

“A lot of people seem really open to the idea of making some textbooks online to save money,” Watts said. “There has to be a way for the prices to come down and this could be one solution.”

Randy Johnson, manager of 710 Bookstore, said he thinks effective online textbooks are still far off. While he has grown accustomed to the competition from the Internet, he does not think the university is ready for online textbooks.

“I think the university has a misconception of how many students actually come to college with a computer,” Johnson said. “I’m sure there is a difference between the amount of laptops in a freshman class at Duke and at SIU.”

Some students were surprised about the price of textbooks everywhere.

Anand Chinnaraj, a graduate student from India studying mechanical engineering, said he did not expect to have to pay more than $150 for two books. He said he bought his books from because they would have cost even more in the bookstores.

Chinnaraj said he would be in favor of online textbooks, especially since he uses the library.

“Sometimes the library does not have the updated books,” Chinnaraj said. “An online book would be updated and maybe be a discount for students.”

Other students prefer not to use any form of a bookstore.

James Beers, a senior from Chester studying music, said he always buys his textbooks but avoids using the bookstore at all costs.

“I had to get one from Amazon, but the other two I got from friends,” Beers said. “The last one I am copying pages out of from a secret friend.”

Jeff Engelhardt can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 268 or [email protected]