With three daughters of the same age, Margaret O’Sullivan thought she could pass on expensive textbooks – instead she spends hundreds of pounds on new books each year.
That’s because minor additions or changes in pagination have rendered perfectly good books “useless,” she said.
Ms O’Sullivan, from Dublin, said an “ever-increasing greed” from schoolbook publishers means her daughters – aged 12, 15 and 17 – cannot pass their books on to their sisters.
“It started in elementary school, when at the end of the summer semester I would put the books aside for the following year in case another of my girls needed them,” she said.
“But then we got messages from the school saying they were using a new Irish book for the next year or that the history or geography book had a new supplement.
“I asked the teacher if I could just use the old ones, but as the page numbering had changed it meant the girls couldn’t keep up in class as they had to look for the right section.
“It was really annoying because I had to buy completely new books even though 99.9 percent of the versions we had were exactly the same.
“Also, on more than one occasion they decided to use a new book for Irish or English, so we bought the new version and gave away the previous one, only to find out a year or two later that they had decided to leave back to what we originally had. It made no sense and ended up costing us more money.”
Ms O’Sullivan said this practice has continued throughout her children’s school lives and now that two of them are in secondary school the costs are even higher and they often have trouble raising the money.
“It was hard when they were younger, but since they went to secondary school, the books have doubled in price, so it was difficult for us to find the extra money,” she said.
“I don’t know who makes these decisions – the school or the publishers – but whoever it is, it’s completely ridiculous and, to me, just out of greed.
“And to top it all off, the local school supply store used to buy used books, albeit for a very small price, and resell them to someone else for double or triple the price, but now they don’t even do that anymore, so we’re left with books every year.” left over that are useless to anyone. It’s scandalous.”
Kerry’s mother, Niamh O’Kennedy, has two sons, ages eight and ten, but is fortunate that her school offers a book lending program.
“When I was growing up we sold school books to the bookstore and they resold them, but I’ve heard people say they can’t do that anymore because books and pages have changed so they can’t be used anymore – that is just horrible,” she said.
“We are very fortunate that our school has a system where we pay €100 (and up to €150 for older children) a year for books – this includes copies, workbooks and photocopies.
“Of course the books are used apart from the workbooks which are brand new and I can see they have been used before but they are all in good condition and we are returning them at the end of the year. It’s a perfect system.
“I find it scandalous that parents have to get rid of books after a child is done with them.
“I have friends in Limerick who pay around €200 for their children’s books and then by the time they go to secondary school it’s double that. Then they cannot pass them on afterwards and the books are simply copied.
“The system that we have in our school is the way forward I think. This makes economic sense and is sustainable. When books are updated or the syllabus changes, our teachers include some photocopied sheets with the additional text – it just takes a little common sense.
“Throwing books in the bin, or worse, just because of a few changes is absolutely shocking and unacceptable in this day and age.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/education/schoolbook-waste-ive-had-to-buy-completely-new-books-even-though-999pc-of-the-material-was-the-same-41835885.html Textbook rubbish: “I had to buy completely new books, even though 99.9 percent of the material was the same”