The cost of textbooks has risen 812% in the U.S.A. over the last 30 years.
That’s more than healthcare costs, housing prices and college tuition, although all of those have risen faster than the rate of inflation.
So the question is, what is wrong with the textbook market?
Most of it, in fact 80% of the market, is controlled by only four publishers—Pearson, Cengage, Wiley and McGraw-Hill. This leaves them with a near-monopoly and a LOT of power.
The publishers market their products to professors using aggressive sales tactics. The professors assign these textbooks to the students who end up having to pay the prices charged, not the professors.
Students at public four-year colleges are paying about $1,200 per year for textbooks and course materials!
Mark Perry, an economics professor at the University of Michigan says: “Just like the ongoing home price increases and housing bubble of the last decade were unsustainable, there is now growing evidence that rising college textbook prices and the ‘college textbook bubble’ are also unsustainable.”
It has now been established that about one out of every three seniors—and one in four freshmen—often don't buy required textbooks because they just can’t afford it. Many students have reverted to sourcing materials illegally online.