Book prices rise faster than inflation

book-graphicStudents will be paying more for textbooks this year as textbook prices continue to rise.

According to the New York Times article titled “Textbook Publisher to Rent to College Students,” textbook prices have tripled from 1986 to 2004, rising an average of six percent a year. That is equal to twice the rate of inflation.

The average annual cost of books is $700 to $1000, according to this same article.

In an effort to assuage the cost of keeping up in your classes textbook rental websites and pilot programs have popped up on campuses across the country.

Follett Higher Education Group, which manages UM’s and 850 other bookstores, is starting a pilot rental program this fall at 12 of their stores.

UM will not be one of these stores.

They plan to offer 20 percent of their titles at 42.5 percent of the purchase price.

“There’s a changing climate in the industry, with all the pressures on the costs of higher education,” Elio Distaola of Follett told the New York Times. “The reason we’re doing the rental pilot is just to see the viability of the program.”

Bookstores are responding to the increasingly popular textbook rental websites like and

Websites like Chegg allow students to rent an unlimited number of books per semester. Each book has a specific rental fee.

The average rental price on Chegg offers a savings of 65 to 85 percent off the publisher’s suggested list price, according to their Web site.

At the end of the semester Chegg customers print a prepaid return shipping label and ship their textbooks back to the supplier.

Chegg and campus bookstores follow similar guidelines when accepting books for buy-back, allowing highlighting to a minimal extent but frowning upon hand-written notes. The website claims to have saved students over $42 million.

UM’s library will not be renting books either.

“There are a few libraries across the country that are working on text book programs that involve reserve copies, swap programs, and rental programs, but we don’t have anything official in place at this time,” said librarian Yolanda Lee Cooper.

According to the Office of Financial Assistance, the university offers book scholarships to students whomake commitments to the university, such as cheerleaders and athletes.

August 26, 2009


Laura Edwins

Managing Editor

ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “Book prices rise faster than inflation”

  1. Bill Vilberg says:

    Great story on the high costs of textbooks. I encourage students to learn about open source textbooks by going to the web site. Textbooks for many classes, especially those taken in the first two years of a college program, are often free on-line or around $30 published. If nothing else, see if you can locate an Open Textbook for a class that you are taking, and then use it as a study guide. If it is good, recommend it to your professor. We don’t want to lower the quality of your education, but Open Texbooks are of high quality, I have confidence that they will be considered. Feel free to contact me on Facebook ( if you want to encourage the use of Open Textbooks at UM.

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