>REACT: Another reason to hate the education industry

>The Chicago Tribune (Aug. 25) did a front page feature on the high cost of text books. As a typical example, they noted that an average freshman at the University of Illinois (Chicago) pays $931 for textbooks (an unbelievable $698, if used). I am not making this up, folks.

If you travel through any commercial book stores, you are hard pressed to find any books in the $150 range of so many school texts. Since textbooks and enjoy brisk sales because they are “required,” common sense and free market forces should keep prices down. (Yes, I know that means higher “demand,” but the supply is unlimited and the purchases are imposed.) In other industries, the red flag of anti trust and price fixing would be waving vigorously.

The whole world of school books is as seamy as organized crime. Payola and lavish gifts for purchasing committees. In one case a bunch of nuns accepted bribes to purchase from a certain publishing house. Professors often pump sales by “requiring” their own books. The cut throat business of achieving a national standard text book — with “political bias” playing an important role. While used books go for high prices, the sell back will net the student pennies on the dollar.

Maybe be prices are to compensate for the fact that almost no textbook will be turned into a highly profitable movie or television mini-series.

Instead of talking more expenditures for the silk lined pockets of the education industry, our lawmakers should be investigating just what makes textbooks so expensive.

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