High Cost of Textbooks

26 Mar

When I first came to college I knew that textbook prices wouldn’t be cheap, however I never expected them to be as high as they are. Books were supplied to us for free in high school, so I never really knew the ballpark of what actual prices were. I never really thought of reasons why the prices are so inflated, but this get’s me thinking about the many different reasons this could be.

One reason this could be is because professors find the best text they can to go along with their course. Most of the time, the better texts are the more expensive ones, and since there is no cost for the teachers to use these texts, they’re not exactly price sensitive. One textbook could cost $200 but it makes no difference to the teacher. Another reason that prices may be so high is for profit. The author, publishing companies, and bookstores that sell the texts all want to make money off of it, obviously. If the textbook prices are low, it is a lower profit for each of these groups. They have their own costs such as publishing fees, the cost of materials, and many other things. If they want to make any money besides just enough to pay for these other costs, they must make the prices higher.

With information and statistics changing so regularly, authors and publishers are forced to update their materials every few years. The cost of the older books obviously go down, however the newest texts stay at a high price, and teachers often require the newest edition, causing us students to have to spend more money. Production and purchase numbers are also small. Millions of teachers and students aren’t going to be using the same text. The number of users is more likely to be in the low thousands. Because of this, the price per book goes up. Textbooks aren’t like the leisurely books people read that sell millions of copies, so these authors and publishers need to make above average texts and price them at a high level.

Many texts these days come equipped with study guides, CDs or online access codes. These things provide extra help for the textbook user. For this reason, many textbook companies raise the prices of their books. It obviously takes them more time and money to produce these things, so their price must go up. They’re not going to provide useful material like that for free.

I also think that publishing companies and bookstores purposely inflate the cost of textbooks because they know they can. Obviously each student is required to purchase that text, especially if they want to succeed. Companies know this, and inflate their prices to make a higher profit off of each book sale. Another reason could be the bookstores doing it themselves. They obviously have a store to keep up and want to stay in good condition, all while keeping their employees happy with the amount of money they are making. In order to do this, the cost of their products must be at a higher level.


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