What is TAP?
In the 2012-2013 school year, students at four-year public colleges like the University of South Florida spent an average of $1,200 on textbooks, according to collegeboard.com. College textbook prices are at an all-time high and are being driven by an unchallenged market with an imbalance of power held by the textbook publishers. Five textbook publishers are responsible for 80% of the textbooks within the $8 billion publishing industry. When there is limited competition, the publishers can charge whatever they want at the expense of students and their families. In addition, publishers issue new editions every year or two, even with minor changes, thus eradicating the more affordable used textbook market.
A recent survey of USF professors has shown that while 78% are aware of high textbook costs, only 35% consider cost when selecting books for their courses.
TAP provides informative, effective and active solutions to the rising cost of textbooks, such as electronic textbooks, textbooks on reserve at the library, the USF bookstore’s textbook rental program, and course packs available through Blackboard.
TAP has 3 components:
- Website and blog – Tap.usf.edu and Facebook page.
- E-Books in the Classroom – making electronic books and textbooks available to students at no cost, with no time limitations. The USF Libraries will purchase electronic versions of books if they are available in that format, at the request of instructors.
- Atlas-Ares Course Packs – readings and other course materials to be delivered through Ares software and integrated in Blackboard, with full built-in copyright management.
The USF Oracle newspaper wrote an article about the high costs of textbooks and the financial burden it places on students. In addition, it details steps that the university has taken to help students with these costs, including the Textbook Affordability Project. The article contains several quotations from interviewed USF students and from Monica Metz-Wiseman, the head of the Textbook Affordability Project.
An article written by Alex Wukman that features TAP and examines topics such as the rise of student activists for textbook affordability, moving beyond the traditional textbook, economics in the textbook market, start-up companies and their effect on textbook publishers, and the issue of digital rights management.
An article written by the Library Journal about the Internet2/EDUCAUSE etextbook pilot currently being conducted at the University of South Florida. The pilot is one of the many projects under the TAP program for making textbooks more affordable for students.