Jason Schwartz has just started his sophomore year at New Trier High School and on the first day of school he was expecting to spend about $200. Instead the cash register soared to $500 and Schwartz described himself as "shocked."
“I’m a little exasperated as we are just in high school,” Schwartz said.
While school officials say there's no way to define the average cost of books for New Trier students, most students will likely spend hudreds of dollars on books, on top of other school related fees.
Schwartz kept book costs low for his family buy purchasing new books which he plans to share with his twin brother.
Using tech to ease book costs
In recent years, New Trier has also utilized e-books to help ease book costs for students.
“We have seen our e-textbooks offer very competitive pricing,” said Nicole Dizon, communications director, New Trier High School. “The electronic textbooks also give us the opportunity to purchase selective chapters rather than entire texts which can be a cost savings to our families.”
The school also offers other options to ease the sticker-shock of book prices, such as selling used books and offering buyback options at the Follette Bookstore, which rents space from the school.
Some textbooks are given to students for free, courtesy of a state textbook loan program, Dizon said.
Promoting buyback programs
In a 2010 memo detailing the book charges, Paul Sally, assistant superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction wrote, "We can do our part by emphasizing the dates and process of the buyback through mailings, the adviser rooms, and the classrooms."
If students have no choice but to buy new books, which happens in the case when a particular text is discontinued, the students have the right to try and sell it back to the store at the culmination of the year, a practice that's been ongoing in colleges.
“We try to limit as much as possible the uses of new editions that do not have significant changes,” Dizon said.