Textbook Transparency And Pricing

Students have greater access to textbook pricing information thanks to recent federal requirements, a new study shows. But it's not clear yet what if any effect the changes mandated by the Higher Education Opportunity Act are having on textbook prices, which have continued to rise at an average of 6 percent per year, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The study released Thursday by the Government Accountability Office offers evidence that textbook publishers, campus bookstores and university faculty members — as required by provisions within the Higher Education Opportunity Act that went into effect in 2010 — are all making efforts to enhance students’ choice and knowledge of the books they’re buying.

The study acknowledges that students now have lower-cost options such as buying used and digital books or renting. But the price of new, print books often drives the prices of other items, including used textbooks, the study says.

And this shows that “there is still a lot of work to do” when it comes to making textbooks affordable for students, said Nicole Allen, the Student PIRGs Textbook Advocate and director of the Make Textbooks Affordable project. She said the study was unsurprising and “bittersweet.”

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