Textbooks still pricey, but University of Massachusetts Amherst students and staff look for ways to reduce costs | GazetteNet.com
"At a time when University of Massachusetts Amherst students spend about $1,200 a year on textbooks, one wonders whether the authors of the nearly $300 “Essentials of Investments” would advise students to actually buy a new copy of their own book. That was not the path chosen by finance major Curtis Kowalski of Boxford, for whom the book is a required text in a required course. The UMass junior went online to rent it from Amazon for $55 rather than pay the $270 to get a new copy from the UMass Textbook Annex ... For years, students, administrators and faculty alike have bemoaned the seemingly unchecked spiraling cost of textbooks. Some students say they’ve tried creative ways to avoid having the cost of textbooks add to the already burdensome expense of their college education by avoiding, when possible, courses with inflated textbook prices, renting texts or buying them used whenever possible. To that end, the university announced this month it would replace the Textbook Annex with an online university store run by Amazon that would offer lower prices to students and a cut of the sales to the university. But that still leaves students paying hundreds of dollars each semester for books, even as they search for lower-cost alternatives to buying books outright ... Meanwhile, the school has been awarding small grants through its Open Education Initiative to encourage faculty to revamp their courses to include free educational materials, usually online, to students instead of traditional textbooks ... That is where the Open Education Initiative comes in, according to UMass Director of Libraries Jay Schafer. Started five years ago, the initiative offers faculty members $1,000 to $2,500 grants to go through their course curriculum and see whether free course materials can be used, Schafer said. The university has so far spent $39,000 on grants for 30 faculty members and saved students more than $1 million in textbook prices, he said ..."