Textbooks pose yet another price hurdle for students: Report

As if rising tuition, fees and housing expenses weren’t enough, a report out Monday shows textbooks pose another cost hurdle for college students.

Indeed, 65 percent of students in a national survey say they have skipped buying a textbook because of its price, and about half say textbook costs can dictate whether they take a particular class, according to the report by the Illinois Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund, based in Boston.

College textbook prices have jumped by 82 percent — three times the rate of inflation — in the past decade, the report says. Textbooks and supplies cost $1,200 this year, or about 14 percent of the price of tuition at a public, four-year college, according to the report, titled “Fixing the Broken Textbook Market.”

Though the PIRG report lists a growing array of options — e-books, rental programs and used-book markets among them — the study’s authors say more can be done.

The top recommendation is for greater use of so-called “open” textbooks — those written by faculty, peer-reviewed and published under an open license so they are free online, free to download and affordable in print.

PIRG Advocate Dev Gowda says any change will be up to students, who must demand that colleges and publishers up-end tradition.

Is this a big issue here in Chicago? Local students, let me know.