It’s been said that textbooks prices have risen eighty-two percent since 2002, only 12 years ago. What. That’s ridiculous! If you’re wondering if it’s true, it is. Big Words says so.

So expensive. And only used as an elevation device. Tsk. (photo by mathplourde)

So expensive. And only used as an elevation device. Tsk. (photo by mathplourde)

So now we have two things that are killing us college students: textbooks and tuition. Yay.

Wired states that:

“The biggest publishers in the world today are education publishers.

It’s not even close. In 2009, Pearson’s Education division alone brought in more revenue than any other book publisher besides number two, Reed Elsevier, whose biggest businesses are Lexis-Nexis and Elsevier Science.

Education publishers dwarf trade presses. Only the top trade press, Random House (itself owned by Bertelsmann) is bigger than Cengage, the little-known education publishing division that Thomson spun off in 2008 before merging with Reuters.

Education publishers are also much bigger than other media companies that attract much more attention. Pearson is far bigger than AOL or The New York Times Company (and much more profitable). In order to find publishers with greater revenue or profits, you have to go up the ladder to companies like News Corp that include global television markets, or retail entities, like Amazon. This makes companies like Pearson too big to ignore, especially when they’re willing to partner up.”

That is absolutely astounding. But the thing is – if colleges didn’t make these textbooks required, the names would be big – but virtually nothing in ranking compared to companies like The New York Times or AOL.

Wired also states that education publishers own a lot of the smaller publishers too:

“Let’s suppose you don’t really care about textbooks. Pearson also owns Penguin, the world’s second largest trade publisher. They also own the Financial Times and a 50% share of The Economist.

That’s the same Penguin that partnered with Apple to help launch iBooks along with the iPad. And that’s the same Financial Times that proved publishers could bypass the App Store’s 30% cut and still grow their subscriber base on iPhone and iPad.

Likewise, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publishes a ton of textbooks — but they also publish The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.”

Those are not the only reasons that textbooks are big business tools; they have broadened their surroundings to information and digital means, as quoted by Wired:

“The classic example of this is McGraw-Hill. Besides being the second largest textbook publisher, McGraw-Hill owns Standard & Poor’s — a combination publisher, stock index, investment researcher and credit rating agency. This seems less odd if you know McGraw-Hill’s flagship publication since 1929 has been BusinessWeek, which it sold to Bloomberg in 2009.”

and

“Almost all big education publishers are involved in some way with educational testing and learning management platforms. Pearson partners with The College Board to administer the SAT and scores the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The company makes $1.7 billion each year in worldwide educational testing alone.

Every education publisher knows that its biggest growth opportunities are digital products and services, expansion into global markets, and efficient investment in its content-based enterprises (like books and journalism).”

You can search books through these companies at Textbooks.org.