University of Louisiana at Lafayette students are outraged over a $999 online textbook for an introductory accounting course. University officials argue that the costly book was just a "placeholder" that "no one would actually pay." Some students went as far as to theorize that the UL-Lafayette accounting department may have a "financial arrangement with Wiley that means they make more money from college bookstore sales."
While purchasing college textbooks for class, one student made a screenshot of the exorbitant price of Financial and Managerial Accounting, 3rd Edition and posted it to Facebook, asking "Can anyone explain why the WileyPlus online code for ACCT 202 is $1,000?" Fellow students also voiced their outrage and accused UL-Lafayette of "scamming students." One user asked the university, "Do you not understand that we are already drowning in debt from student loans to pay the high tuition?"
University provost and faculty members in the accounting department allegedly wanted their students to have print textbooks so they could "easily work through exercises in class without the use of laptops or tablets" and actually wanted to "discourage students" from selecting the online-only version. Generally, students prefer print textbooks to digital ones, but online textbooks are typically cheaper. Wiley, the textbook publisher, and UL-Lafayette's accounting department "worked together to discourage students from buying the eBook - setting the price astronomically high and making the print option seem like a relatively good value," according to Inside Higher Ed.
Although the online-only version of the textbook was priced at $999 in the Wiley marketplace, a print and online textbook version was available for $235.25 from the college bookstore. Even though students purchased the cheaper version of the textbook, they still found it costly since they had to also purchase a homework packet costing $59.75.
"Books should not be this expensive when you are already paying a ton for tuition," said one student. The university claims that the $999 price tag was set with "good intentions" but that they "realize now we needed to explain the rationale behind it better." The college textbook marketplace is quite daunting as it is, due to a large number of vendors, "subtly different textbook editions, disliked single-use access codes and disparate rental programs." According to the university, they want "students enrolled in the course to spend only $313," and "encourage them to do so."