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

Government Report Finds Textbook Costs Still Skyrocketing

The Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, which advises the Department of Education and Congress on student financial aid policy, has completed a yearlong report to Congress on potential solutions to the problem of skyrocketing college textbook prices.

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News Release | Textbooks

Washington Governor Signs College Textbook Transparency Act

Making Washington the first state to act in 2007 on the growing problem of college textbook prices, Governor Christine Gregoire signed a landmark measure this morning that will help lower the cost of textbooks for Washington college students. The law requires textbook publishing companies to disclose prices and change-of-edition information when marketing course materials to faculty in the state of Washington.

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Report | Textbooks

Exposing the Textbook Industry

Today's college students are under enormous financial pressure. The gap between tuition and fees and financial aid leaves many students working long hours through college, struggling to make ends meet, and graduating with large debts. The high cost of textbooks is yet another financial burden. MASSPIRG conducted a survey of 287 professors from a variety of disciplines at Massachusetts colleges and universities over the fall semester of 2006 to get their views on textbook industry practices that drive up prices. (February 2007)

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News Release | Textbooks

New Report Exposes Publishing Industry Tactics That Drive Up the Cost of College Textbooks

Students are still paying too much for their textbooks, as book prices skyrocket at four times the rate of inflation, according to the new report from the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group. The report highlights one major cause for the artificially high prices – publishers don’t provide clear information about their prices to faculty.

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News Release | Textbooks

New Report Details Latest Examples of Textbook Ripoffs

A new report, released today by The Make Textbooks Affordable Campaign, presents new case studies of how the college textbook publishing industry deliberately undermines the used book market and inflates prices. Based upon surveys and interviews of bookstore managers and university faculty across the country, the report – “Required Reading: A Look at the Worst Publishing Tactics at Work” – identifies specific textbooks that employ types of publishing tactics, and illustrates how they inflate the cost of textbooks for students.

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