The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

College textbooks prices are too high

Stacks of math textbooks currently on sale inside the El Camino College Bookstore on Oct. 18. Books are priced differently, a precalculus work book is $50 while the precalculus textbook is over $200. (Nick Geltz | The Union)

On top of paying tuition El Camino College students also needs to pay for a number of textbooks, as prices continue to rise the cost becomes overwhelming.

While El Camino has a few options for no text classes or lower priced books the college should increase both the marketing for existing help and do more to reduce the rising cost of textbooks.

In a 2011 LA Times article about textbook costs the former state Senate leader of Darrell Steinberg said that between 1986 and 2004, textbook prices rose 186%, double the inflation rate. That was twelve years ago.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices for college textbooks increased by 7% between 2020 and 2023.

Textbook prices at the El Camino Bookstore range from $80-$100. The cost of a one semester Spanish textbook in the bookstore is currently $129.95, a significant amount for struggling students to pay out of pocket.

Psychology major Akshat Basutkar, 21, said the most expensive textbook they bought this semester was $85.

An underused but existing option El Camino students can use is the Bookstores book buyback program.

The buyback program allows the Bookstore to buy back unneeded textbooks from students. Students can receive up to 50% of the original price paid back to them if the books meets set standards.

While the effort to give students an option to return and receive money back from the pricey books is appreciated, the option is not well advertised and not many students know about it.

The best time to take advantage of the service is during finals, during other times students might not receive a monetary return to make the option worth it.

El Camino provides many resources for low income students so promoting and expanding the buy back program beyond finals would be a natural next step.

This semester I purchased a $280.43 Spanish textbook that includes three textbooks in one. I bought the bundle thinking I would save money.

Had known about the buy back option, I could have bought the books individually and gotten half my initial investment back.

This isn’t just an issue at El Camino but at other community colleges as well. A Santa Monica College Spanish textbook for one semester cost $142.49, a 13% price increase from El Camino.

El Camino also offers Zero Textbook Cost classes which are courses designed to have no textbook related cost added and Low Textbook Cost classes which maintain a maximum cost of $40 total for materials needed.

But these classes are exceptions not the norm and not every student can take them.

El Camino’s administration should see the impact textbook costs have on students, and put themselves in a student’s shoes.

Moving forward, El Camino should increase promotion of the Textbook Buyback and other programs that offer reduced prices or vouchers. Zero and low textbook cost classes should be increased when feasible.

Students should take advantage of existing resources while college administrators should focus on expanding these types of programs.

College is a tough and expensive time when students already worry about housing, nutrition, and transportation. The last thing students should worry about after paying for classes is spending even more money on class materials.

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