It was my first course in college. Nervous and uncertain about how to navigate this new world, I examined the class syllabus, called the college bookstore, and ordered the required textbook for my course. It came in the mail a day or two later: a brand, spanking new textbook package… with a price tag around $120.
Today, over a decade later, the price which nearly gave me a heart attack as a college freshman doesn’t seem so bad, particularly when one sees what textbooks are going for today. According to recent numbers from economist Mark Perry, the average price for college textbooks ranges between $150 and $250 depending on the discipline.
Judging from another chart provided by Perry, this increase in the price of college textbooks is not simply due to normal inflation. In fact, college textbook prices have increased by 981% since 1978 – roughly double the percentage increase of medical care and new home prices.
Perry attributes this huge rise in cost to the “higher education bubble,” which he claims is becoming unsustainable and will certainly burst in the near future. But until that day comes, today’s college students are unfortunately stuck paying for exorbitantly priced textbooks.