As your first full week of classes comes to a close, if you haven’t stood in the ridiculous line at the bookstore, you’ve certainly walked by it. Regardless of whether you stood in an endless maze of a line, you certainly felt your pocket burn when purchasing your textbooks. That burn was probably a little less severe if you bought your books online. Thankfully, that is an option the University will be making easier starting next semester. If the University hopes to help students in the future, though, it’s going to need to keep up with changing technology.

Websites like Amazon.com and Half.com allow students to shop directly for cheaper, used versions. To make things even easier, many sites are emerging that help in the search for used textbooks, including Uloop.com and local upstart mtextbooks.com. Uloop.com simply connects students with sellers of used books. Mtextbooks.com, which launched this semester, took that a step further, compiling lists of the textbooks needed in courses and then connecting students with people selling those books or offering them information about other options.

Beginning next semester, the University will finally throw itself into this mix with the next program UBook. The program will connect with CTools and allow students to find the books needed in a course and students selling those books. The logic goes: If students know about their textbooks earlier, they’ll have more (and therefore cheaper) options. Combine that with a student-to-student exchange, and textbook buying just got a lot easier and cheaper.

Here’s the catch: Professors won’t be required to list the textbooks for their courses. They should be. In light of the other private websites like mtextbooks.com sprouting up, it is especially important that the University makes UBook the most trustworthy place to get textbook information.

Besides UBook, which is an excellent program and hopefully will live up to its lofty expectations, the University needs to keep up with the changing textbook market. Because the University didn’t keep up with online markets, a survey last year ranked the University 38 out of 39 colleges in terms of textbook affordability.

For example, new electronic reading devices like the Kindle are becoming increasingly popular. This wireless reading device, which cost about $350, allows people to download books at roughly 60 percent of their original cost on average. The University makes a lot of its joint effort with Google to digitize all the books in the University library. Why couldn’t the University take the lead in connecting these two advancements to make digital textbooks available?

UBook will hopefully be a program worth celebrating next semester. But if the University wants to rank higher than second from last, it’s going to have to be proactive from now on.

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