New editions of textbooks not worth the cost

“Do we really need the newest edition of the textbook?”

This is a question that is often asked during the first meeting of a college class and more often than not, the professor answers with yes.

Unfortunately, colleges in America are stuck in an ever-repeating cycle of textbooks and the losers of this cycle end up being the students themselves.

Each semester it is the same story: the publishers release a new edition of almost every textbook they printed the year before. Then the new textbooks are raved about by the publishers and the authors, claiming that the newer textbooks have so much more information than the previous editions. Then professors around the nation put the newest edition as a required text for their classes and the students suffer with the new textbook price tags.

This cycle needs to stop.

Too many times have I purchased or rented the newest textbook, compared it to older copies of the same textbook in the library and found that the only thing different between the two are the current events mentioned in relation to the main points.

Instead of requiring the newest textbooks that only feature updated examples from the media, professors could discuss the recent examples in-class while still using the second to the newest editions of textbooks that have, almost word for word in some instances, the same material as a previous edition.

One example of this is the eighth edition of the textbook “In Mixed Company: communicating in small groups” by J. Dan Rothwell. This textbook is listed at $150 to own a new copy or $37 to rent a copy from Amazon and was listed as a required text for one of my classes this semester.

Before purchasing the text, I visited the campus library and compared the newest edition of the textbook, which is on reserve in the library, with the sixth edition of the textbook, which is in library circulation and was printed in 2004.

Besides the front covers, the textbooks were nearly identical. The chapter titles, the chapter order and even much of the wording are exactly the same in the two editions of the textbook.

I figured that the information in the newest edition surely had to be on the unit test, be a topic of discussion in the class or be the basis of some homework assignment – nope.

So why is the newest edition of the textbook listed as the required text for the class, again?

The only reason is for the publishers to maximize profit for the publishing companies, which is not maximized when students purchase older versions of textbooks.

Professors need to do their homework when it comes to choosing the textbooks they require for their classes. And as students, we need to speak out about this trend that is occurring all over the nation.

If not, then the publishers and the authors of these textbooks will continue to profit off of the ignorance of us all.