Textbook Prices Are Out of Control

  • 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.