by Kelly Fleshman
Almost every college student is aware of, and burdened by, the high costs of textbooks. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, textbook prices have seen an increase of 1,041% since 1977. As we learned in our Week 4 Learning Unit (Publishing Audiences), students are captive customers and have limited options.
In attempts to avoid the higher costs of textbooks, some students are renting their textbooks from companies such as Chegg or Barnes and Noble, using e-book versions for the lower cost, or not buying the required textbooks at all. Using these methods may be more cost effective, but students have a more difficult time being able to highlight and take margin notes or are missing out on assigned readings completely.
Perhaps, all of this is about to change for the better. In October, a bill to potentially reduce the costs for college textbooks was reintroduced to the US Senate (the Affordable College Textbook Act). The bill would establish a grant program that would support the open use of college textbooks and students would have free access to those materials.
The bill would also potentially force publishers to rethink their textbook pricing structure and requirements for educational materials, which could be a possible game-changer for academic publishers.