COLUMN: Students are spending too much on content offered online
The textbook “Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology” is offered at the university bookstore. It has 622 pages and contains 52 philosophical articles. It costs $57.95 new, and $43.50 used.
I legally downloaded more than half of the articles in that textbook for free. There’s nothing right with students being required to buy class materials that are available for free online.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing unusual about it, either.
It happens all the time at OU. Students frequently are asked to buy public domain books — especially books composed of individual articles — for non-negligible sums of money.
It’s often the case that a student or professor can find the articles for free, or at a reduced price, on the Internet.
Philosophy courses probably are the most guilty of this. Some of the texts read in class are hundreds of years old.
But this problem ails other courses as well.
Any classic Greek play — such as “Medea” or “Antigone” — is old enough to be free of copyright. Likewise, Shakespeare’s works now are public domain. So rather than spend around $100 on the “Riverside Anthology,” students on a budget can take the time and track down free and legal copies of any Shakespearean play online.
I can’t guarantee this is the case for all majors, and for many I am sure it’s not. However, I think it is worthwhile to at least look into, regardless of your major.
I only can speculate why this is the case for so many courses. Perhaps professors themselves are unaware their books can be found on the Internet. Maybe they prefer solid copies. Neither of those excuses seem particularly strong to me.
Ultimately, the financial burden placed on students should be a priority over something as trivial as having hard copies.
Today’s college students are burdened with a high price for their education, and the price of textbooks figures into that number.
While the costs might seem negligible to some, another $100 textbook featuring the writings of Plato could conceivably mean a more restrictive meal plan for other students.
I understand it can be a hassle to look up PDFs online or put scanned pages onto Desire to Learn, but there really isn’t any good excuse for some of the materials students are asked to spend money on.
Before the next time they go to the bookstore, I advise them to check how much of their reading material can be obtained online.
And before the next time professors determine which books to read in class, I advise them to follow suit.
Steven Zoeller is a journalism junior.