College textbooks would cost students a lot less if all colleges adopted the textbook "rental" service used by Eastern Illinois University, where I taught geography 20 years ago.
Each student paid a fixed fee for all of the books he or she would need for the semester, based on the number of courses in which he or she was enrolled. The textbooks were then provided to the student by the college.
I suggested this at Fresno City College 10 years ago, but the faculty and the administration were strongly opposed.
To make the rental system work, EIU required faculty to use no more than three books for each course and to use each for at least five years.
Moreover, all faculty teaching the same course were required to use the same textbooks. The faculty at City College hated this idea because it limited "academic freedom."
The administration also hated the idea of renting textbooks. To do so would require devoting significant space to textbook storage and significantly reduce revenue for the current bookstore.
Perhaps now is the time for these two groups to rethink their opposition.
David Paul Davenport