While reporting on eCampus’s new virtual store earlier today I told you that college students had cut their textbook spending in college bookstores by as much as 23% over the past few years. In perfect serendipity, NBC has published an article that explains part of the reason why:
According to NBC’s review of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, textbook prices have risen over three times the rate of inflation from January 1977 to June 2015, a 1,041 percent increase.
“They’ve been able to keep raising prices because students are ‘captive consumers.’ They have to buy whatever books they’re assigned,” said Nicole Allen, a spokeswoman for the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition.
They’re not wrong, but students aren’t entirely without recourse. As an NPR investigation in 2014 showed us, the average amount students have spent on textbooks plateaued in 2002. Students are now paying only $320 per semester for their textbooks, and they’ve found smart ways to keep the cost down.
Students are more selective in which textbooks they buy, and they’re more inclined to buy online so they can get the lowest price. If the textbook isn’t strictly needed for the class then students tend not to buy them, and they’re also more inclined to sell a textbook back at the end of a semester.
Rising textbook prices are also responsible for the rise of the open source textbook movement, which seeks to replace expensive college and K-12 textbooks with freely licensed versions that can be edited to suit the needs of a specific school or class.
image by wohnai