Despite their continuously increasing prices, thousands of college textbooks are still being sold in bookstores all across the United States. At present, college students have very few alternatives to expensive curriculum-required textbooks available for purchase in campus bookstores and other similar offline resources, often being required by faculty members to buy updated, new study materials instead of more affordable and equally effective used textbooks. Even when not pressured by teachers to buy new study materials, students experience serious difficulties in quickly finding the right used college textbooks, or realize that used study materials aren’t a good bargain at all. In many cases, used college textbooks are only 10-15 percent cheaper than their new counterparts, students still having to spend a lot in order to enter in possession of such textbooks.
While most students are making great financial efforts to obtain their required textbooks, publishers and editors are continuously adding to the burden, permanently aiming to increase their profits. According to recent studies conducted by the National Association of College Stores, the college textbook industry is an impressively lucrative business, with overall profits of more than $6,5 billion every year. Another recent study conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reveals that the cost of the average college textbook increased by more than 180 percent since 1986, at present students having to spend about $900 a year to ensure a minimum number of required books. Students enrolled in classes such as art history or sciences often pay even higher annual bills, as textbooks specific to these subjects are more expensive to produce.
There are various reasons why the costs of college textbooks have exploded over the last few years. The primary reason why the average prices of curriculum-required college textbooks have reached today’s exaggerated proportions consists in the publishers’ ongoing efforts to include additional learning material in order to serve as many categories of students as possible. However, besides being very expensive, eclectic, polyvalent college textbooks are also less comprehensive and in many cases, poorly structured. With all that unnecessary material which is regularly being added, the results are often huge college textbooks that can’t be properly studied during a single semester.
Another reason for the high costs of today’s college textbooks consists in the abundance of “helping” materials which accompany many existing editions: CD’s or more recently, DVD’s. Although most teachers admit that such additional materials are rarely useful and substantially raise the costs of college textbooks, they have been rapidly labeled as “modern educational tools” and are often included in reviewed, updated textbook editions. Apart from being very expensive, college textbooks that include learning resources such as course CD’s and DVD’s, or website access can’t be subsequently resold, thus preventing students from recovering a part of these materials’ original cost.
The good news is that students can still close good deals when buying college textbooks by turning to the Internet for help. There are hundreds of high-quality online bookstores and other similar online resources that offer students the opportunity to purchase cost-effective, new or used textbooks. Although such websites enjoy good exposure and have become very popular in the recent years, the offline college textbook industry continues to hold the supremacy on the market. However, if the prices of new and used college textbooks available in traditional bookstores continue to rise at today’s rate, textbook-offering online resources are expected to be assaulted by customers in the near future.