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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Some students will do whatever they can to avoid emptying out their wallets for textbooks, even if it means downloading them illegally.

For students, textbooks can be a financial burden aside from paying for tuition. In  recent years, the cost of college textbooks has skyrocketed 82 percent between 2002 and 2012, according to the U.S. Accountability Office.

Jessica Diaz, a  UF civil engineering junior, has paid about $250 for one textbook. She said she has heard of websites where students can access textbook PDFs illegally.

“For me, I just find it’s easier to have a hard copy version,” Diaz, 20, said.  “They are really expensive, but it’s still morally wrong.”

Unfortunately for local businesses selling textbooks, students getting their textbooks online for free could cut sales in the future.

Doby Gray, manager of Gator Textbooks at 3501 SW Second Ave., said his business will suffer if more students choose to download illegal copies of textbooks.

“Right now, despite students finding other means for books, our sales stayed the same this year,” Gray said. “If more people find out about this, we would cry.”

Barbara McDade-Gordon, UF associate professor of economic geography, said textbooks cost too much for students.

“The point is to access information and knowledge, no matter how they get it, as long as it’s legal,” she said. “I don’t want students to do anything illegally, but the Internet makes information so accessible these days.” 

McDade-Gordon said there are other ways to get textbooks that are cheaper and legal, such as renting books and even buying used books from past students.

“Students just don’t have the money to be spending so much on textbooks, especially for just one semester,” she said.

[A version of this story ran on page 8 on 9/22/2014 under the headline "Illegal textbook downloads on the rise"]

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