Just about every college student has had the frustrating experience of buying a $179 textbook, and only being able to sell it back at the end of the semester for pennies. Why? Because the required textbook for the course is always the latest and greatest edition, and between receiving a syllabus your first week, and taking a final exam, yet another latest and greatest edition has come out!
It’s not uncommon to walk into your college book store the first week of classes and leave with $700 missing from your debit card. Textbooks are expensive! Even if you purchased used textbooks online, it adds up, and students already on a tight budget are stretched even thinner.
The state of California recognizes this problem. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, a new law was signed on July 17th that requires publishers to disclose to buyers and professors the difference between one edition verses another. Publishers are also now required to disclose alternate materials available on the same topic. This law will be effective as of 2013.
What does this mean for you?
Well, if you’re a professor, it means you’re not the one going page by page trying to determine the difference between the new edition and the previous edition. It also means you can accurately inform your classes whether or not they truly need the newest edition or if previous editions will suffice. Essentially, this law saves you time, and probably a lot of complaints from students who don’t have a lot of money as it is.
If you’re a student, you have the ability to make the decision yourself whether or not you believe the newest edition has anything extra to offer. You’re being given all of the information so you can make an educated decision about your purchase. This law is saving you money. While you may get nothing in return for selling back an older edition textbook at the end of the semester, at least you didn’t spend nearly as much money obtaining it in the first place. You also won’t find yourself in a situation where you bought an older edition, assuming it wouldn’t be much different that the current one, only to discover the night before you’re first exam, that half of the book is changed.
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