Why Are College Textbooks So Expensive?

12 Dec

Just as many parents figure out how to pay the high costs for college tuition they are then shocked to see the exorbitant prices they have to pay for college textbooks and wonder why are college textbooks so expensive? In some cases, just one textbook can run upwards of $500.

There’s really no easy, straightforward answer to this question. Publishers claim this is partially due to the fact that the textbooks go out of date within just a couple years of publication so the high cost of the books is to help cover the expenses of producing so many textbooks every year.

Another factor which has to be taken into consideration is that textbooks rarely have single authors like other fiction books. In fact, the average college textbook usually has a panel of authors and editors. This means in addition to trying to recoup the publishing costs, these textbooks also have to be priced to provide some sort of payment to the authors and editors who actually do the research and compile the information in the books.

There may also be another, somewhat insidious, reason for why are college textbooks so expensive. That answer is they’re so expensive thanks in large part to used bookstores.

Used bookstores really came into the forefront of college life in the mid 70’s and early 80’s. Prior to this time period college textbooks cost about the same as a “regular” hardback fiction book. This was because most people actually held onto their college textbooks and used them to start their professional libraries.

These days very few students actually keep the textbooks after the course has ended. Most people believe they can find the information they might need in the future online so there’s no reason to hold onto large, bulky texts. Hence, the birth of the college used textbook stores.

This system is nearly risk-free for the bookstores, but costs publishers (and therefore consumers) hundreds of dollars and results in increased book prices. When a bookstore orders the textbooks brand new from the publisher, they automatically increase the price.

If they purchase the book for $73.50 and increase the price by $26.25 to $99.75, that’s already a 35.7% price increase which the student has to pay. The author might receive $11 from that book, or that $11 might be shared among the panel of authors and editors.

When the student sells the book back to the bookstore, the store will only pay 25-50% of the original price- maybe $39.90. The bookstore will then re-sell that book for maybe $75. All of that money goes into the bookstore’s pockets. None of the re-sell monies go to the publisher or the authors.

Even worse is most publishing companies will provide a few complimentary copies to professors to consider when selecting texts for their course. Many of these books also end up in the used bookstore, making money only for the bookstore.

When taking all of these factors into consideration, it’s easy to answer the question why are college textbooks so expensive. Maybe it’s time to consider hanging onto those books and starting your own used bookstore!

Or alternatively, you could consider renting your college textbooks instead of buying them outright. This can save you up to 75% of what you would normally pay at your campus bookstore. With college textbooks being so expensive these days you can see how this can add up to a huge saving.

Also, there’s no need to hold on to some big old dusty books once your course is over…just send them back to the rental company using free shipping.

Find out more about saving some serious money by renting your college textbooks here ==> Rent Your College Textbooks


%d bloggers like this: