A recent report from the U.S. Public Research Interest Group took a long look at how students deal with the rapid inflation of textbook prices. The results showed that high textbook prices aren’t just an extra cost for college. They can have long term detrimental effects on everything from grades to debt to the courses students are willing to take.
Obviously, this hits close to home for Bookbyte, but even while we’re very aware of the problems of overpriced books (and do our best to offer an alternative), the report still managed to dig up some surprising statistics.
The first is that 65% of students have decided to not buy a required textbook to save money. This number is ridiculous. When the majority of students will at some point decide that necessary course materials are too expensive to bother with, there is clearly a serious problem with the textbook industry’s pricing structure.
The second is that 94% of students who opted not to buy worried about the effect on their grades. This means that a huge portion of students are being put into a position where they feel the need to choose between money and grades. And still, the average student will at some point or another go with saving money. This is not a compromise students should have to make.
Nearly half of all students say the cost of materials has an impact on which courses they take. This is another piece of data that’s absolutely staggering when you think about it. Despite the immense cost of college tuition, about half of all students will draw the line in the sand over expensive textbooks. Prices are so absurdly high that millions and millions of students have said “no” to a course they would otherwise take, simply because they can’t afford the books. This is where the statistics stop just being shocking and start being almost infuriating.
New editions will be released every 3 or 4 years regardless if there is any new content. We’ve been in the textbook resale business long enough to know this one to be true. That’s why we strongly encourage students to sell back the textbooks they don’t need as early as possible, the prices fall quicker than you might imagine!
There’s no denying that the textbook industry is due for a change. The only question is where the change will come from. The current model is resistant to change because the decision-makers — professors and publishers — have very little motivation to stir things up. It’s up to students to lead the push toward more reasonable pricing and an adjusted profit model for publishers.
In the meantime, the best students can do is keep in mind that there are still a few good alternatives for cheaper textbooks out there…