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New plan in the works to reduce textbook prices

Expensive Books

By Matthew Skog

Textbooks are an expensive part of everyday college life.

But a group of Chemeketa staff members is hoping to combat the rising costs of textbooks through a new plan called the Sticker Shock Initiative.

Chemeketa President Julie Huckestein said that she was excited about the opportunity to do something about this growing problem.

“For a number of years the Chemeketa faculty, administration and the Book Store have shared a concern about the rising cost of textbooks,” she said.

“Sixty to 70 percent of students nationally report they took a class without buying the text because they could not afford it. We believe this is a barrier to student success.”

The Sticker Shock Initiative began recently.

“Our new initiative is just now launching,” Huckestein said. “A team of more than 45 instructors, administrators, and Book Store staff convened in September to begin a conversation about how we can further reduce costs.”

While the initiative may be in its infancy, its long term goals are impressive.

“We don’t have all the details yet,” Huckestein said. “But some colleges have been able to drastically reduce the costs of textbooks to under $50 per book and in some cases offer materials and textbooks virtually free to students.”

These goals will be accomplished through a variety of cost-saving measures, including giving faculty members the ability to create their own textbooks.

“Creating the materials and using open educational resources allows the instructional program the freedom to determine content,” Huckestein said. “I hope over the next year we will be able to create a plan to support faculty in creating some of our own textbooks through the use of open educational resources.”

This new initiative isn’t the first time that Chemeketa staff members have worked to reduce textbook prices.

“We’ve implemented a number of strategies in the past to lower costs but feel we need to do more,” Huckestein said. “We already sell a high percentage of used textbooks, and over the past few years we implemented a textbook rental program, e-books, loaning of books through the library and Student Life, and through the use of old editions by faculty.

“This year our Book Store director and some faculty have even negotiated lower prices with publishers.”

Nicole Genovese, a first-year Chemeketa student, said she believed that lower textbook prices would help students like her.

“Compared to other colleges, most textbooks here are fairly priced, but some are still ridiculously expensive,” Genovese said. “I’ve never gone without a book because of its price, but I’m sure lots of people have.

“If Chemeketa found a way to lower the cost of books, it would probably help a lot of people out. I’d like that, definitely.”

Huckestein said she believed that the initiative would pay off.

“In the years to come, I hope our efforts to reduce costs will allow Chemeketa students to afford textbooks and class materials so they can complete courses successfully and graduate,” she said.

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