A Cover to Cover Solution

We just released a new report on textbook affordability. The new report evaluates cost-reducing options from the traditional textbook market – rentals, e-books and e-readers – and  open textbooks as potential measures to reduce the high cost of textbooks.

Already, more than 1,300 professors across the country are using open textbooks – which are free online, affordable in print and openly licensed – saving students 80% on average according to the new report.  With textbook prices rising more than four times the rate of inflation, we’re calling on publishers, colleges and government to support the creation of more open textbooks.

Our report finds that open textbooks could reduce the average cost of textbooks by 80% from $900 to $184 per year. Authors and publishers of open textbooks could recover their costs through the sale of print copies and other optional items: 60% of the students from a previous survey would buy a low-cost print copy even though the full text is available free online.

Students have widely varying attitudes toward digital textbooks and renting, and that any solution must accommodate many different preferences to extend the benefits to all students.  Open textbooks are a long-term solution, because they offer a range of affordable options including print copies, PDFs and free web-based versions that can reduce costs for all students.  The report concludes that promoting new models like open textbooks should be the next step toward making textbooks affordable.