Knowledge is Power….and It’ll cost ya

While taking a break at the office today I happened an article on my Facebook newsfeed that made my heart skip a beat: the prices for university textbooks in the U.S. are increasing than other costs such as healthcare, housing, etc…

And by “increasing”, I mean skyrocketing to a whopping 812% higher than they were thirty years ago.

It’s absolutely ridiculous, really. The National Association of College Scores (NACS) reports that students will spend a rough average of $655 on textbooks a year, and with each textbook costing about $200-300 on average-that’s excluding other goodies such as CDs and fancy numbers that provide full access to companion websites-it’s no wonder students show up to class empty-handed.

A breakdown of the publishing costs by the U.S. News and World Report goes as follows:

“NACS no longer receives information from publishers about where textbook money goes, but as recently as 2008, they provided that cost breakdown. At that time, around 15.4 cents of every dollar went toward marketing the textbooks, 11.7 cents went to the authors, and the largest chunk—32.2 cents—went to the basics: paper, printing, and paying publishers’ employees.”

Kinda funny how the authors aren’t the ones getting the lion’s share for their hard work, wouldn’t you say?

College students here in Lebanon, especially here in Beirut, have been graced with a cheaper alternative: photocopied versions of the books. Granted, that’s in direct violation of copyright laws and further screws the author over financially, but nobody here really cares for such trivial details so long as they’ll have enough left in their wallet to get wasted in Hamra or Gemmayze over the weekend; otherwise we have the added luxury of buying and trading used books (which I’ve been doing for the past two years, to great effect).

In my honest opinion, education, along with healthcare, are the only two things that should be free in any society, higher taxes be damned. The fact that students and their parents are being drained to cover costs just so the former can receive a decent-to-outstanding education and, consequently, get a decent-to-outstanding job to have a decent-to-outstanding-future, is insane-nay, obscene.  Nobody should have to stretch themselves and their loved ones thin in order to acquire knowledge and establish themselves.  On the plus side of things, there are an increasing amount of alternatives to this, one of them being the increased amount of open source-websites and what-not from heavyweights in the education industry such as Stanford and Yale. Suck that, corporate America!

Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Well how would you expect people to do that when they have to gnaw off an arm and a leg to do so?

Y’all take care now



About optimistthepessimist

Always in transit.
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