Florida Public Interest Group (FloridaPIRG), an organization that helps students organize around issues of immediate concern to them, addresses the issue of textbook affordability by telling students what they should do to reduce the cost of their textbooks–shop for used textbooks online, rent textbooks, etc.– but they omit the fact that textbook affordability is not merely the student’s responsibility–it is a community effort. Students, for the most part, know that they can comparison shop online for the best textbook prices. They share or swap textbooks with classmates, or they read their textbooks on reserve at the library. College bookstores like the one at USF are increasingly offering rental and downloadable alternatives. And faculty have their responsibility as well–to get their textbook orders to the bookstore on time (March 1 for Summer, April 1 for Fall and October 1 for Spring semester) so the bookstore will have plenty of used copies onhand. They can also assign older editions of textbooks, if appropriate, and provide updated information in classroom lectures. Some subject areas change quickly, but many others do not. And faculty can also put together their own course packs, and assign e-textbooks that are easily and inexpensively downloadable.
When it comes to textbook affordability, it takes a village.