Individual textbooks now often cost over $200, and sometimes cost as much as $400.
Over the past decade, textbook prices increased 88% — that’s three times the rate of inflation.
65% of students report that they skipped buying or renting an assigned book because of cost.
Nearly half of all students say that the cost of course materials impacts which classes and how many classes they are able to take.
Why Are Textbook Prices So High?
The broken textbook market allows publishers to keep driving up prices without consequences.
Prices are usually kept in check by the buying power of customers who shop around for the best deal and by competition between companies.
But with textbooks, the customers – the students – don’t choose their textbooks, so they can’t shop around. Instead, books are assigned by faculty members, who don’t buy the books themselves.
Just five publishers control 80% of the textbook market, so they rarely compete directly on price.
Meanwhile, publishers keep inventing creative new ways to increase profits, like high-priced, single-use access codes or other products that eliminate used alternatives, prevent sharing, and ultimately limit consumer choice.