As college tuiton rates continue to steadily increase, textbook prices also increase at nearly twice the rate as tuition. This hefty expense often comes as a surprise to first-time college students and their families after securing funds for tuition, room and board and other associated educational costs.

Average Cost

According to the College Board, the typical college student will spend over $1,000 per each year of college. This is the amount for two semesters of school at about $500 per semester. Each book may cost between $80 and $120.

Additional Factors

The total cost that a college student will spend depends on several factors. The more classes she enrolls in, the more books she will likely have to buy. Survey classes that span material over several subjects or historical eras will likely require more books than other classes. Hardback classic books are generally more expensive than paperback books. Specialized classes and law school casebooks are also more expensive than a common course’s required textbook.

Reasons for High Prices

Although textbook prices are high, according to the University of Iowa IPRO’s report, only 11.7% of the price of a new textbook goes back to the author and 11.8% goes to the college bookstore. The rest of the income goes to freight and the publisher. Even if college bookstores lowered their prices, the majority of the expense is established by other entities.

Some publishers include supplemental products with their textbooks, such as workbooks and software. This is to entice faculty members to choose their product, even though many college professors will not require students to use these materials. The additional materials increase the total price of a textbook.

Ways to Reduce Prices

If the high cost of textbooks is weighing you down this semester, you have several ways to reduce the expense. Buy used books from the bookstore instead of new copies. Online market places provide an affordable alternative that is not affected by the local factors that may increase prices in a brick and mortar bookstore. Some bookstores allow students to rent the books for a cheaper rate.