Recent developments have brought signs of relief from runaway costs. In July of this year, provisions from the Higher Education Opportunity Act took effect, requiring publishers to disclose textbook prices to professors during the marketing process. Increased awareness of cost will create an atmosphere where lower-cost options can gain traction. Concurrently, several potential solutions have evolved in the textbooks marketplace.
College textbook prices have skyrocketed in recent years, threatening the affordability and accessibility of higher education in America. The average student spends $900 on textbooks annually, which can be the tipping point between affording a degree and dropping out because of cost. As prices continue to rise, the need for solutions is increasingly urgent.
Cost-reducing options for traditional textbooks: As of this fall, more than 1,500 colleges offer books for rent, and more than 7,000 common titles are available as e-books. New e-reading devices like Apple's iPad and Amazon's Kindle offer a convenient, portable way for students to read and store digital books.
Alternate models: Open textbooks are offered online under an open-source license that allows free digital access, low-cost print options and customization by instructors. More than 1,000 professors are using open textbooks this fall, and dozens of high-quality books are already available.
The Student PIRGs conducted this study to evaluate the long-term potential of these new options as solutions to the high cost of textbooks.
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