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Custom Textbooks: Added Cost or Added Value for College Students?

Oct 29, 2007
Have you ever found yourself visiting all of the major textbook websites for a required textbook only to find that the ISBN does not exist? If you are unfamiliar with custom version textbooks, you may think that the professor made an error or that the textbook is not available yet.

Many textbook publishers are giving professors the option to modify a textbook by adding a chapters, experiments, and labs. These textbooks are given a unique ISBN and a unique custom version title, for example, English Literature, Custom Version for New York Community College.

If you have not already guessed, custom textbooks carry additional cost that standard textbooks do not. The cost varies from publisher to publisher, but the standard cost seems to start at about $2.00 plus up to an additional 5% for each experiment or lab the professor adds in the book. Most publishers require a minimum of 12 experiments.

A custom textbook can cost a student an additional 24 to 35 dollars or more depending on the publisher's cost and the amount of material being added. It may cost even more if the professor adds a chapter to the book.

But there is also a positive side to custom textbooks. For the additional cost, students receive the standard textbook along with the materials the professor added. In the classroom, a personal touch is added to the curriculum as professors are likely to include in the text a few case studies that are meaningful to the students and to the community.

Custom textbooks are also more fluid. How many publishers kick themselves after publishing and printing a textbook about Earth Science only days before a new breakthrough in the field is released? Custom textbooks give professors the opportunity to add the latest developments and discoveries to the textbook.

When you think about it, you may conclude that more value should result in more cost. In general, that is true, but what ever happened to professors uploading case studies onto the class website or handing it out to students during class? With the steadily increasing cost of college, I think students need a break.

Also, what happens to the buyback value of the textbook? Just like many students today, I can remember relying on buyback cash to cover other expenses. With a custom textbook, the demand is most likely going to be limited only to a particular school, or in extreme cases, to a particular class.
About the Author
Jimmy Walker is the founder of CitePlanet.com . Find thousands of quality citations from books, periodicals, and electronic sources. Post samples of your work on CitePlanet!
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