College Textbooks For Less Money

June 9, 2008

Many students ponder amongst themselves, and each other, asking the same old question: Why are college textbooks expensive? Surely, college textbook publishers have answers of their own, but 20 members of Congress aren’t buying it. They want to make college textbooks available for less money.

Twenty members of Congress introduced the College Textbook Affordability Act of 2007 (H.R.3512), which requires textbook publishers to fully disclose to higher-education teachers the price that the publisher would charge college bookstores; a history of the revisions that were made of a particular textbook; and whether the book is available in other formats such as paperback and electronic versions, and the prices of each. The Act would also require publishers to “break up bundles,” which could include CDs and other piggybacked materials.

In addition, the Act would mandate colleges and universities that are federally funded to list the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) and the price of textbooks on their Web site schedules alongside each course, making sure college students are fully informed before registering for classes.

According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, the price of college textbooks has risen at twice the rate of inflation. The GAO report further states that the costs could increase a student’s college expenses from eight percent at private universities to over 72 percent at some public colleges.


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