Dianne Acuna, 18, estimates that she has already spent $500 on textbooks this semester.
“It was always mentioned in high school that textbooks were going to be expensive in university,” said the firstyear early childhood education student. “But paying that price for the first time was still shocking.” Acuna still has two more books to buy.
An American website, www.CourseSmart. com, is offering a less expensive alternative with online textbooks.
Since August 2007, the website has been selling more than a third of popular textbooks, all of them ready to be downloaded as PDF files. Some of the textbooks are up to 50 per cent cheaper than their print counterparts.
CourseSmart does not try to cover the fact that it’s selection of titles is still limited. Even with 7,323 books available, some key publishers like Oxford are missing.
Of 27 randomly selected titles at the bookstore, only four of those books were found on the website.
Some of Ryerson’s faculty do not mind this technological shift, but they do greet it with concern.
“I have no problem with laptops in the classroom if they continue to participate and engage each other,” said English professor Nima Naghibi.
“The only problem I have with students being online during lecture is if they’re on Facebook or checking their e-mail.”
Professor Rahul Sapra is more concerned with the quality and availability of the books.
“If the website doesn’t offer the books I’m assigning, could they download a different edition? I teach Shakespeare and there are a lot of Shakespeare books on the internet of poor quality.”
Ashley Arruda, 19, would welcome lower prices. The second-year psychology student guesses she spent $600 on textbooks this semester and could not find cheaper copies at the used bookstore or online.
“Sometimes if you can’t find the books you need at the used bookstore or online, you have to use Ryerson’s bookstores and their prices,” she said. Acuna would welcome any assistance saving money. “Any help is help,” she said. “Ryerson doesn’t do a lot to promote other off-campus options for a lot of student expenses.”