Rising Cost of Textbooks Leads to Illegal Downloads, Copies

Updated: 08/23/2013 7:42 AM KSTP.com By: Naomi Pescovitz

Days away from move in, college campuses are starting to buzz once again.

Students' and parents' credit and debit cards are getting plenty of activity, too. Textbooks are more expensive than ever - and costs continue to rise.

Bob Crabb, director of University of Minnesota Bookstores, says the increase is linked to a consolidation of publishers; less competition drives up prices.

"We're trying to do everything we can to save students money and it's tough," Crabb said. "When they come in the store and see $200 textbooks, they think they are getting gouged, and I don't blame them."

According to a study from the U.S. Government Accountability Office released earlier this summer, college textbook prices are going up 6 percent a year - or 82 percent during the last decade.

"I think they should be cheaper. I mean it's crazy to spend $100 on a textbook, and then if you don't even use it," University of Minnesota Sophomore Natalie Sutliff said.

Some students are now fighting the high prices with unconventional - and possibly illegal - measures. A study last month, released by the Book Industry Study Group, showed that about 34 percent of students had downloaded course content from an unauthorized website. Thirty-one percent of students said they had photocopied or scanned chapters of textbooks from other students.

"I'm not a snitch, but I know that students are doing that and I don't blame them because I don't know what their financial situation is," U Graduate Student Saymoukda Vongsay said.

To save money, Vongsay compares every book to Amazon.com on her phone while shopping at the bookstore.

"We're on limited budget," Vongsay said.

The U's Bookstores are working to keep customers through offering book rentals, used books, E-books and some of the lowest markups in the country. Crabb advises that students shop around, but to shop legally.

"Publishers are very watchful of that and will bring suits against individuals that are doing it," he said.

Click here for information from Book Industry Study Group.