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Why are College Textbooks So Expensive?

Today, the cost of college in the country has reached an all-time high. Even with scholarship and financial aid opportunities, many families must save up for their child’s higher education virtually from the day they are born. And worse, the classes are not the only blow to your bank. The price of college textbooks are ridiculously expensive today; in 2013 it was estimated that each student spent about $655 (just on books!) per year. But what is the reason for these atrocious and unavoidable fees? Here are a few:

  1. Lawsuits. If any smaller (and less expensive) book companies arise, they are usually sued by the ones who charge so much. And only about 5 publishers have a right to the market, so they are able to rise and lower prices as they wish. Since no smaller companies are able to compete with them, they are able to demand whatever cost they see fit. And, they constantly update the books with new “features”, so that students cannot buy older used copies for cheap.
  2. The desperation of the customer. College professors have no reason to hold back on the “best” textbook types, and these vary year-to-year. Frantic students, seeing no other way out, will continue to buy whatever the teacher requests. This cycle is vicious and constant. And about 77% of each dollar goes directly to the publisher.

Is there any way out? In fact, there might be. There is a bill going to Congress right now that is called “The Affordable Textbook Act” that will allow the use of open textbooks on the market. These books will be free to read online and only $20 for the book itself. Short term solutions include looking online to see other options, and not always accepting that the best book is the most expensive.

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