Direct Textbook explains why textbooks keep getting more expensive and how to get steep textbook discounts.

Everyone knows textbooks keep getting more expensive, but have you ever wondered what unique market conditions have led to such inflated pricing? A report published by the Government Accountability Office found that textbooks prices increased by 82 percent between 2002 and 2012, compared to an average increase of 28 percent for all other goods. What gives?

For starters, consider the following:
  • The textbook publishing industry is highly-competitive, yet just five publishers collectively control 80 percent of an $8.8 billion market (Follet)
  • The best way for publishers to compete is to continually update textbooks with new - though not necessarily better - content. Thus, they release new editions every two or three years. Naturally, this cycle also lends itself to profit
  • New editions cost 12 percent more, on average, than the editions they replace; and because the old editions are no longer sold, students cannot sell their textbooks back to the bookstores (U.S. Public Interest Research Group
  • Textbook prices also increase due to bundled software and access codes, which typically have expiration dates that make them impossible to resell
  • Unlike other industries, the people who decide which textbooks to use are not the buyers. Students don't pick the books, and neither do bookstores. Faculty members do

In a 2014 study, the U.S. PIRG concluded that textbook inflation is fueled by a profit-driven five-publisher quasi-monopoly that employs "a set of tactics that drive prices skyward by reducing student choice."

High textbook prices don't just deplete students' funds and rack up debt, they also jeopardize their education. In the U.S. PIRG study, a full 65 percent of students reported not buying a textbook because it was too expensive; of those, 94 percent said they were worried about the detrimental affect it had on their grades. In short, students are risking grades to avoid buying textbooks.

We've covered why textbooks are so expensive. Now, let's look at how you can offset textbook costs:

  1. Search for the textbooks you need on Direct Textbook, the world's most comprehensive textbook price comparison engine. With Direct Textbook, you can save up to 90 percent on new and used textbooks; plus, find lower-priced alternative editions and compare rental and ebook prices from dozens of companies
  2. Take advantage of coupons to save more money; Direct Textbook makes this easy by displaying currently-active coupons
  3. Save even more money by enrolling in the Direct Textbook Cash Back Program, which pays you up to 10 percent cash back on qualifying purchases

Direct Textbook can help you save a lot of money on textbooks, but it's not the only way to offset textbook costs. When it's time to resell your textbooks, skip the campus bookstore (which might not be accepting them anyway) and use Flipsy.com to find the highest-paying buyer for your textbooks.

Flipsy is like Direct Textbook in reverse: Direct Textbook finds the lowest prices, while Flipsy finds the highest-paying buyers. When used in tandem, you can buy low and sell high.

Here's a real-world example. You might recall the Cal State Fullerton textbook controversy, in which a professor was reprimanded for not using the school-proscribed textbook and instead offering students a cheaper option. The book in question was Differential Equations and Linear Algebra, and sold in the campus bookstore for $180. The professor instead assigned a textbook that cost $85.

At the time of this writing, a used copy of Differential Equations and Linear Algebra could be purchased via a Direct Textbook seller for as little as $64 - with free shipping. It could later be sold via Flipsy for $47 - leaving a net cost of $17 and a savings of $163 over the original textbook.

Escalating textbook prices are a fact of college life, but you don't have to take them lying down. Use Direct Textbook and Flipsy together to buy low, sell high and keep your textbook expenses to a minimum.

 


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