Why are college textbooks so expensive?
According to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG), college textbooks cost students approximately $900 per year, or about 20% of tuition at an average university. Textbook price increases outpace inflation, with government-sponsored studies finding that textbook prices have been increasing 6% year over year since 1987, compared to 3% increases of average prices.
Government studies attribute rapid price increases to a market driven by supply rather than demand: Professors select textbooks from publishers, bookstores order them, and students must pay. Students can't control or influence the price, format, or quality of the product, and are subject to whatever price is set by the textbook publishing companies.
Several governmental organizations have suggested that short-term and long-term approaches to remedying the high cost of university education must include additional options for making textbooks more affordable for students, with a focus on transforming the existing supplier-focused market into a demand-driven, college- and student-centric market.