As of fall 2010, students no longer have to go to the Knox bookstore or e-mail their professors to find out what textbooks are required for their classes. Rather, they can access this information online at the bookstore’s website.
The change was instituted in response to a new federal regulation, known as the Higher Education Opportunity Act, that requires students be told textbook costs when they register for classes. According to bookstore manager Craig Conolly, the idea was that students might choose to enroll in different classes depending on the cost of the required readings.
Conolly said the regulation required that colleges “do their best to let students know” and “make a meaningful effort at the time of registration” to let students know what their books would cost. An institution can do this in whatever way they see fit, but for Knox, making textbook lists online was the logical solution. Conolly said Knox likely would have done this even if not required.
According to Conolly, textbook sales have gone down since textbook lists were put online. He pointed out that a drop in sales may not necessarily be because more students are ordering their books online.
“It’s hard to say if it’s because of that or because students are sharing textbooks,” he said. “Sales are down everywhere.”
Regardless, the regulation will benefit at least one student at Knox. Senior Jess Unrein spent $505 on textbooks winter term.
“I bought them from the bookstore because I didn’t know far enough in advance what my textbooks were,” she said. “I would definitely look my books up and buy them online from now on.”
Although students often choose to order books online or share with friends, Conolly pointed out that decreased sales mean decreased revenue for the college.
“People think of the bookstore as being a separate entity, but it’s part of the college,” he said. “Any money we do or don’t make falls to…the college.”