Textbook, Why You Cost so Much?!


At the end of every semester you should be celebrating but you probably are not.  The fact that you are about to sell textbooks back to the college bookstore for pennies on the dollar just to reinvest hundreds on another stack can really ruin your post exam high. The real pain of it all is not understanding why textbooks cost so much.. I mean it’s just paper with words written by people smarter than you (temporarily)… right?

The College Board recently estimated that they average student pays over $1,200 per year on textbooks. Back in the “ol days” textbooks were used as more as a memorization tool. Fast forward a bit and soon books became “instructors” replacing the in school experience in the 1930s. Many of you were not alive then but we can promise you times were not easy and the great depression was right around the corner. The focus on every product made around this time was durability. Textbooks needed to be made with quality to withstand the test of time. As you know.. as we all know…the world moves too fast for this. News, facts, everything is constantly changing.

Fast forward to the 70’s. Textbooks hit a BOOM! Publishers were sourcing professors to produce new editions every few years. This is the point where textbooks became less about educating and more about profit.

Now, let’s get down to the “nitty gritty”. When you buy textbooks from a college bookstore, a huge chunk of the price is the mark up price. Let call this markup “shelf rent”. You are paying for that book to be at that store in that space and taken care of by the bookstore. Typically you are paying almost 30% mark up when you buy from a campus bookstore. The 30% “shelf rent” pays for employees, electricity, cleaning of the store, etc. For every dollar you spend, it’s likely the bookstore really only makes 6% off the actual book.

So who’s making all this money off the college students? Check out this cold hard fact:

“To print this 864-page book — including ink, paper, printing services, and binding — the publisher pays $10.75, or 6% of our book’s $181.50 price tag” – Price Economics

Authors, your professors, make about 15%. If your “Economics of the Barbarian Family of 897 BC “ cost $181 bucks, your professor who wrote this epic book takes home about $25 bucks per copy. The real money makers are the editors. Please note… your professor is not editing his own books. Nope nope nope! The publisher has a team of editors who spend hrs and hrs editing (even though there has not been a report on how many hrs… weird) these bounded masterpieces. Editors take home 32% of the revenue.

Then you have marketing cost. That cover of a Barbarian pillaging a town did not draw itself. Also you have to remember there are sales reps to be paid, book fairs to go to, free copies to give out, etc etc. This is estimated to make up 15% of your textbook cost. Add another 11% to this for freight and general “overhead” which honestly… I do not know what general overheard means when the publisher tacks on this %.

So yeah….that is why your textbooks are so freaking expensive. You really are not paying for the raw information but rather everything else.  It’s a whole economic system that is causing student to sink further into dept. How can you avoid this? Use our site… price compare… buy used… just don’t spend the hundreds upon hundreds at your campus bookstore. We are able to find you the cheapest textbooks and also help you sell your textbooks back for the highest cost to online bookstores. Don’t believe us? Give it a whirl. Grab the closest textbook (it’s finals week so you should have one by your side) and go HERE. Type in the ISBN and see for yourself.