Make Textbooks Affordable

Everyone knows that textbooks prices are outrageous. Students spend an average of $1,168 a year on textbooks and course materials, and prices have been rising more than for times the rate of inflation for the past two decades!

It’s no accident that textbooks are so expensive.  Publishing companies have been raking in huge profits while engaging in bad practices that drive up costs: issuing new editions that make used books hard to find, bundling textbooks with unnecessary CDs and pass-codes, and more.  They get away with it because students don’t have a choice -- we’ve got to buy the book they’re selling, even if the price is outrageous.

The good news is that we're making progress. Students can save hundreds through discounted options like renting, used books and bookswaps on campus.  At the same time, lasting solutions like open-source textbooks are gaining traction, which could literally revolutionize the textbook market by offering free online access and reducing costs up to 80%.

We're fighting to rein in costs by promoting cost-saving solutions on campus, while also tackling publishers' stranglehold on the market to change prices for good.  We're educating students, faculty and bookstores, and raising awareness through research and the media.   We're also calling on publishers, colleges and foundations to support the creation of more open-source textbooks that could save students millions each year.

Issue updates

News Release | Textbooks

Exorbitant Costs Spur Launch of National ‘Textbook Rebellion’

TextbookRebellion.org, a national campaign to promote alternatives to sky-high priced college textbooks, launched today with a petition drive and tools for individuals and groups to get involved.

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Media Hit | Textbooks

In a Digital Age, Students Still Cling to Paper Textbooks

CLINTON, N.Y. — They text their friends all day long. At night, they do research for their term papers on laptops and commune with their parents on Skype. But as they walk the paths of Hamilton College, a poster-perfect liberal arts school in this upstate village, students are still hauling around bulky, old-fashioned textbooks — and loving it.

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Report | Textbooks

A Cover to Cover Solution

The Student PIRGs conducted this study to evaluate options from the traditional textbook market - rentals, e-books and e-readers - and  open textbooks as potential next steps to reduce the high cost of textbooks.  The report finds that student preferences vary widely, and that options like rentals and e-books only appeal to a subset of students.  Open textbooks have the highest potential as a solution because they can meet the needs of all students. 

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News Release | Higher Ed, Textbooks

New Report Finds Switching To Open Textbooks Saves Students Thousands

On the heels of a new federal law on textbook affordability, the Student PIRGs today released a report calling rentals, e-books and e-readers short-term remedies, and hailing open textbooks as the next step to rein in runaway costs.  Already, more than 1,300 professors across the country are using open textbooks - which are free online, affordable in print and openly licensed - saving students 80% on average according to the new report.

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News Release | Textbooks

New Laws, Free Books and Textbook Rentals Could Help Curb Rising Costs This Fall

BOSTON, Mass. (August 26, 2010) — Students across the country are gearing up for sticker shock over textbook prices this semester.  The average student spends $900 per year on textbooks, and new calculations by  Alpha PIRG Students show that costs have increased at an astounding rate: textbook wholesale prices have risen more than four times the rate of inflation over the last two decades (1990-2009).

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