Between tuition, housing, and dining- being a college student is not a cheap experience. However, those are not the only expense students face. A single textbook can cost up to $300.
So let's say a student takes five classes each semester, that means over the course of a year, book totals can rack up to a whopping extra $3000. College textbooks are a $7 billion industry, how did that happen?
Why do they cost so much?
According to Alex Neal (CEO of campusbooks.net), the reason textbooks are so expensive is because college professors will assign specific editions of books specially catered to your university, so there is no fear in the industry of competition and prices can be driven up with no fear.
Since publishers make no money off students buying used books from other students, each year a new, expensive, edition is released of almost every book. These new editions are made with major changes. Updates are highly appealing to college professors so that it is impossible for you to take a class using an old version of the book.
Publishers also tend to bundle textbooks with CD-ROMS and make it so you cannot buy just a textbook alone. You may end up not even touching the CDs, but it is a easy way for publishers to continue to raise the price.
Is anything being done to lower the absurd prices?
Yes. Senators and congressmen have recently noticed the issue, and created a bill titled the “Affordable Care Textbooks Act” This bill introduces the idea of an “open textbook”. An open textbook is simple a textbook with an open license. What will that change? Under an open license, a physical textbook will only cost around $20.
Is there anything students can do to help bring about change?
Yes, students can start by asking professors to adopt an open textbook for their course, and begin to raise awareness.