Negotiations between CALPIRG, the math department, UCI Bookstore and publishing companies have successfully resulted in lowered prices for the calculus textbook used in Mathematics 2 courses at UCI, and expanded purchasing options for the precalculus textbook.
According to the Department of Mathematics Professor Bernard Russo, students can now purchase Thomson Learning’s publication of the Stewart Calculus textbook used in Math 2A, 2B, 2D and 2E for $96.30 in a softcover edition which includes a solution manual. This is a reduction from its prior hardcover price of $128.40.
In addition, an agreement was reached with McGraw-Hill that will provide students with the option to choose from more cost-effective versions of the precalculus text. The precalculus textbook will now be available in a CD format with solutions and additional features for $35.15, a loose-leaf text for $64.95 and the hardcover text for $93.55.
This nationwide campaign originated at UCI last winter but the lowered textbook prices first appeared in UCLA last spring. However, the $96.30 that UCI students will pay for the calculus textbook is lower than the $109.50 that UCLA has bargained for.
Lilan Bowden, CALPIRG campaign coordinator and third-year drama major, explains that the principle is not where the change first takes effect, but that change is taking place.
‘The important thing is not where it happened, but that it is happening,’ Bowden said.
This significant feat in the campaign, however, does not mean that the issue is over. According to Bowden, there is still much more that can be done to lower textbook prices in other departments.
‘It’s an ongoing campaign because we want the [prices of] textbooks lowered overall and not just certain textbooks,’ Bowden said. ‘[We want the publishers] to look into online textbooks, to really do all they can do to cater to the consumers’ needs, which are the students here. Even though we have seen small steps we are really pushing for a bigger movement in lowering the costs for textbooks.’
Russo adds that there are still unsolved problems in the issue. Although the calculus textbook’s price has been lowered, the campaign was aimed at achieving other goals as well.
‘Although the textbook prices have lowered, other issues listed in CALPIRG’s ‘Rip-Off 101′ [campaign] have not yet been changed, like overseas prices and new editions,’ Russo said.
Bruce Hildebrand, executive director of Higher Education of the Association of American Publishers, defends the publishers by stating that they can only do so much for students in regards to the price they pay for books.
For instance, they do not have a final say in the price setting and they do not determine which books are bought in the first place.
‘The retailers have control of the final prices. Professors order the books. We don’t dictate which books are bought,’ Hildebrand said.
Hildebrand claims that the option to make textbooks more affordable was always available and the results of the negotiations were not because of CALPIRG’s efforts. He states that publishers are constantly ‘offering options in value.’ He makes a point that publishers try to offer what the consumers want and CALPIRG did not have any influence on the publishers’ decisions.
‘These developments don’t just take place overnight
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