Updates

Textbooks for the 21st Century

College textbooks are an essential but increasingly expensive part of obtaining a higher education. Major publishers have done little to provide adequate lower-cost versions of most textbooks and advertise them to professors ordering books for their classes. In response, alternative and online publishers are offering lower-cost and even free versions of some textbooks. Although these alternatives have the potential to compete with the traditional publishers, they have not yet secured a significant part of the textbook market. As a result, the responsibility for making textbooks more affordable still falls on the major publishers.  (August 2006)

GAO Report Finds Textbook Prices Skyrocketing

A new report by the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) confirms previous research conducted by the Student Public Interest Research Groups (Student PIRGs) into textbook prices. The GAO report, requested by Congressman David Wu last year, found that textbook prices have risen at twice the rate of annual inflation over the last two decades, an average of 6 percent each year since 1987-1988, compared with overall price increases of 3 percent per year.

Limited Knowledge

The future of academic research is in peril. University budgets are decreasing while the cost of academic journals is skyrocketing. As a result, universities are unable to purchase vital journal subscriptions that help boost the quality and success of new academic research. Fortunately, new and innovative solutions are growing in popularity and have the potential to change the future of academic communication. (September 2005)

A Guide to Establishing Textbook Rental Services

One innovative way to lower textbook costs is allowing students to rent, rather than purchase, their textbooks each semester. This document is a twelve step guide for colleges and universities interested in lowering textbook costs for students by transitioning to a textbook rental service or exploring new, innovative business models. (July 2005)

Seven Hundred Physics and Math Professors from Over One Hundred Universities Call on Thomson Learning to Stop Unnecessary Textbook Revisions

As a prominent publisher continues to issue “new” editions of textbooks that are not significantly “new”, hundreds of college physics and mathematics professors issued a joint call to action. The call to action was sparked by the latest research from the Student PIRGs that found that new textbook revisions reduce the availability of used books, which are 45% cheaper than new books.

Ripoff 101: 2nd Edition

In order to both confirm our initial findings and to follow up on a number of anecdotal reports of additional problems with textbook pricing, the State PIRGs conducted an expanded survey of the most widely purchased textbooks at 59 colleges and universities across the country. (February 2005)

New Report Shows College Textbook Costs Increasing Sharply Ahead of Inflation

College textbook prices have increased at nearly four times the rate of inflation for all finished goods since 1994 and textbook publishers engage in practices that artificially inflate textbook costs, according to a new study by the Student PIRGs. With textbook costs already high – an average of $900 a year, or a fifth of tuition at a public four year university – the Student PIRGs called on publishers to stop needlessly inflating textbook costs.