Just as full-grown adults know that there are two things certain in life, the first being death and the second being taxes, college students know even more so that in their case, the second certainty for them is overpriced college textbooks. In fact it is such common knowledge that college textbooks will hit you in your wallet every year that there are numerous memes and jokes surrounding this fact.
The reasons that college textbooks are so expensive are aplenty. The process of making a textbook is supposedly expensive, causing the overall cost of the end-product to be costly as a result. This coupled with the fact that students are essentially required to buy whatever textbooks are required by their professors creates an unfair market for textbooks in general, with textbook companies being able to raise their prices almost indefinitely since students will have to buy them regardless.
In fact, college textbooks have been increasing steadily for decades, and at a rate faster than medical services and home prices to boot. This is unsustainable and must be corrected by college officials. Students should not be forced to pay such exorbitant fees as a whole, especially considering that all of this is on top of the college tuition itself.
Colleges admittedly do not have full control over the prices that textbook companies set for their products. However, there are plenty of things that they can and should do if they want to help students avoid paying so much for something that will be used for just one or two semesters before being given away or sold off for a fraction of what they paid for.
To start, colleges should inform professors to only require textbooks that are actually required. Professors may love the textbook for all of the knowledge it provides, but if it is only a supplement to the actual teaching that they will be doing in the classroom themselves, then they should not make students pay for the textbook to begin with. If anything, it can be a supplemental or non-required textbook, which allows for students to buy the textbook at their discretion.
Colleges should also work with their bookstores to ensure fair valuation of used textbooks that students want to sell back to the bookstore, which effectively offsets how much they actually spent on the textbook overall. While college bookstores have less say in how much to sell new textbooks, they have much more say in the resale market. Taking this approach would obviously cut into the college bookstores bottom line, but considering that the students are already paying so much to the school already, it is not unreasonable for the school to lessen the burden when it comes to the additional cost of textbooks.
As enticing as selling college textbooks at a huge mark-up are for textbook companies, and even for the colleges that sell them and re-sell them over and over, it is important to keep in mind that these costs are passed on to students who can barely afford tuition, let alone exorbitant textbook prices. If colleges truly want to do their students right, then they must do whatever they can to help mitigate those costs.