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Fixing the broken textbook market
Nagle, Cailyn · Vitez, Kaitlyn · U.S. PIRG Education Fund [corporate]

PublishedJune 2020
PeriodicalEdition 2, Pages 1-20
PublisherU.S. PIRG Education Fund
CountryUnited States, North America

The high price of college textbooks remains one of the most significant out of pocket expenses for students. The cost of textbooks has increased at three times the rate of inflation, and although that trend seems to have plateaued in the past few years, the high barrier of overall cost remains. The move from traditional print copies to temporary digital materials has eliminated many of the traditional cost saving measures students have historically employed. When students are forced to pay for an access code, which is an expiring login to a publisher platform that a student would use to submit their homework, the stakes are higher than ever.

So, how are high course material costs affecting students today? The Student PIRGs implemented a national survey in Fall 2019 to find out. We asked nearly 4,000 students to share their experiences with us, across 83 institutions serving over 500,000 students. We found that despite publishers’ talking points that access codes and other digital materials have answered student’s cries for help over costs, there has been little measurable improvement in key textbook affordability measures over the last six years since our last national survey. The broken textbook market continues to fail to meet student needs, and leaders at institutions of higher education should take further action to aid students.

Keywords textbook · textbook market · open textbooks

RightsCC BY
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