Many students who attend University for the first time are amazed at how much tuition costs, but students quickly realize before the first semester how many more thousands of dollars they will have to spend just for books. Over the last 30 years, textbook prices have increased over 800% which is more than medical services (575%) and new home prices (325%). Over the last 10 years, the price of textbooks have risen 82% which is 3 times the rate of inflation. College Board estimates that students spend around $1,200 per year solely on textbooks which correlates to 39% of community college tuition and fees and 14% of four-year university tuition and fees.

In a survey of 2,000 students from over 150 different campuses, 65% of those students said they refused to buy a textbook because it was too expensive and 94% of those students replied that they were concerned this would negatively impact their grade. There is obviously a problem in the textbook industry but why is that problem occurring and what are the solutions?

We are currently seeing a wave of support for “open source textbooks”. These are textbooks written and peer-reviewed by faculty members and free for students to download online. They are released under an open license so they can be edited and customized based on the teacher’s preferences for the course. California, Utah, Florida, Maine, and Washington State have all moved toward this open source system. Under the previous system, the buyer dictated to the supplier what they wanted in the product. The result was a race to the most expensive book and it did not benefit the students at all. Open source text books basically get rid of the supplier and allow the buyers to customize the product so it can have the most value to students educationally and financially. Open Source textbooks will increase the access students have to information and increase the access students have to higher education. They will also create better learning experiences because they are so adaptive. Open Source textbooks are an alternative to the high-priced traditional textbook and offer a win-win situation in terms of access to education and quality of education.

Comments (1)

  1. SUMIT


    Professors are responsible for students to select a particular course material for the course. From my personal experience, some professors suggest you to buy textbooks worth over 120$ and the material is nowhere reflected in the course but still students have to buy the book. Why ? Because the professor asked them to buy the book before the course begins and students think this might be a useful resource to get good grades in the course. Students can’t look around and locate the most affordable choice, which means there’s no customer control available. Thus, distributors can keep costs high by printing new releases of the book – wiping out the alternative of exchanging old books – or package the books with costly programming software add-on.

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