Tackling the high cost of college textbooks

My wife and son are going to college together this semester. Mitchell, a senior at Ghidotti Early College High School, is taking a college calculus and American government class at Sierra College down in Rocklin — “off the hill” from our home. And to share the 45-minute commute to Rocklin, Shannon signed up for an art history class at the same time.

The textbook for “Survey of Western Art III: Modern through Contemporary” goes for $152, but we rented it at Chegg for $33.49. I like Chegg; its CEO is Dan Rosensweig, a former executive at CNET, where I helped launch the news division when it launched and went public in the mid-’90s.

The stock “CHGG” has done well too — no wonder when considering the cost renting vs. purchasing college textbooks!

Mitchell’s calculus textbook is paid for during the semester, a perk of the “early college high school.”

The video “Rising Textbook Prices Mirror Rising Drug Costs” is here:

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

9 thoughts on “Tackling the high cost of college textbooks”

  1. Text book costs are not the variable they used to be. Rarely do you have to buy a book (I suggest you keep the book). Most books are on rental. And, many Professors, (at least at UCSD) will have you download the text in PDF form for FREE! My son has sent me several textbooks electronically.

  2. Gregory is more ignorant than I thought: Confusing UC’s COSMOS program with the private, for profit, pre-college summer programs mentioned in an article he dug up. Of course, his claim to fame is “independent software engineer at my place.” A real achievement! Small towns are a hoot!

  3. And “fish” is back at it again, wasting his time commenting on Rebane’s blog on this glorious weekend afternoon. I’m enjoying watching my alma mater Northwestern play Stanford in the first weekend of college football games. Of course, “fish” can’t relate, because he couldn’t get into either of these schools. He’s not even Division III material. Podunk. BTW, “fish”: What college, if any, did you graduate from? You’ve never told us. And that speaks volumes.

    1. Todd’s comments on Rebane’s Ruminations illustrate the value of that blog. What would Jesus say? BTW, Todd, it’s spelled “Berkeley,” not “Berkely.” What a dunce.

  4. Gregory (AKA “independent software engineer working at my place”) still can’t wrap his head around the COSMOS program. “The California Legislature established the California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science (COSMOS) in 1998 (Assembly Bill 2536), with the goal of engaging highly talented and motivated students in an intensive program of study, experimentation, and activities to further their interests and skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
    “COSMOS is guided by a statewide advisory board composed of select leaders with interest and experience in STEM education, including the chief scientist at Los Alamos. …”
    Though he considers himself a scientist (in his case, a degree from a Jesuit school that accepts more than half the applicants — and offers few Ph.D. programs), Gregory keeps bringing up an article in Washington Monthly (a “science” journal? lol) that lumps together a bunch of pre-college summer programs (though it doesn’t mention COSMOS).
    One of the problems with small towns like ours is that “scientists” such as Gregory somehow see themselves as “experts” in their field. But the pool is so small, exposing them to the rest of us. To be sure, some are anti-global warming fanatics masquerading as scientists.
    In our son’s COSMOS program, one in four applicants were accepted, according to organizers. His cluster was “Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine.” Dr. Sah ( M.D. at Harvard Medical School in 1991 and Sc.D. from MIT in 1990) is continuing to work with students including our son in internship programs.
    Gregory doesn’t have a clue; he’s just a loud voice on a local political wingnut and global warming denier blog in western Nevada County, CA. An academic embarrassment in the real world.

    1. Gregory continues to show his ignorance about the COSMOS program with more armchair research on Google. And he calls himself a scientist. But this is the funniest part: He relies on the same publication to bolster his argument against pre-college summer programs that also ignores the school where he got a master’s degree in its “national universities” college rankings. And if that’s not enough, the No. 1 school in the magazine’s rankings, UCSD, has a COSMOS program. What a maroon! https://washingtonmonthly.com/college-guide/college-guide-rankings-2015-national/

  5. Still no word from “fish” about where he went to college — if at all. Another “brainiac” on Rebane’s Ruminations.

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