Students skimp on costly textbooks

College students can’t afford to buy costly textbooks, according to a U.S. PIRG survey. In an unscientific survey at 13 campuses, seven of 10 undergrads said they hadn’t bought one or more textbooks to save money.

Textbooks prices rose by 22 percent over the past four years, faster than the inflation rate, the analysis found.  On average, textbooks cost a quarter of state university tuition and three-fourths of tuition at community colleges, according to a federal estimate.

“Generally what we get from students is ‘Yeah, it’s only a few dollars, but it could be my dinner,’ ” said Jessica Bruning, a student at Iowa State University who has worked with a school group to lobby the Iowa legislature on behalf of college students. “It adds up pretty quickly.”

Textbook Rebellion, backed by U.S. PIRG and Campus Progress, is lobbying for alternatives to high-priced textbooks such as open-source learning materials.

My husband has written several college engineering textbooks. Sales have fallen because students can’t afford to buy the book.  (It lists for $184, but it’s only $146 on Amazon!)  Some share with classmates. Others try to make do with older editions, even though computer engineering changes rapidly, or buy pirated versions. He’s considered self-publishing a free online textbook and making money on . . . Well, that’s the problem.

POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON August 17, 2011

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