Over half of college students are not purchasing textbooks due to high prices, according to a recent study by CALPIRG.

According to the study, released earlier this month, 65 percent of students decided not to purchase their college textbooks due to high prices. It also found that publishers release new editions of textbooks every three to four years, with a price increase of almost 12 percent — along with offer bundles, which include online passcodes or supplementary CDs that create an increase of 10 to 50 percent in pricing. Many students reported experiencing difficulty selling back a textbook, especially if it’s in a bundle with an expiration date, as passcodes often have a limited time period.

Second-year global studies graduate student Sara deFosset said the high price of textbooks has imposed more stress unto pressures faced by students due to budget limits and increasing expenses.

“It’s not fair to the rest of the class, your teacher, or even yourself to just not have the material because it’s too expensive,” deFosset said.

UCSB Bookstore employee Brandon Chaidez, a third-year political science and environmental studies major, said he thinks the issue does not lie with the bookstore but that it is the result of publishers increasing textbook prices year after year.

“Unfortunately, that means we have to have new editions come out frequently,” Chaidez said, “Because that happens, we have to pay high, raised prices for books. Because we’re at university, we get the newest material, the newest updates, so we have to pay more.”

CALPIRG organizer Kat Lockwood said high textbook prices are the result of “a broken market,” and added that textbook companies have some dishonest or unfair methods for selling books.

“Students that buy textbooks don’t have a choice of what books to buy,” Lockwood said. “Companies do a lot to lobby and try to get their books assigned and make new editions that have very little changes and things like that.”

Due to high textbook prices, the report has shown an increased usage of rental and used book programs by students. In addition, the report suggested alternatives for textbooks such as online copies, used textbook and rental programs and open-source textbooks, which are free, often downloadable faculty- and peer-reviewed online textbooks.

Assistant News Editor Peter Mounteer contributed to this report.


This story is a Daily Nexus online exclusive.