Letter to the Editor: Textbook Prices

Last semester, I spent over $250 on textbooks for my college courses on top of paying thousands of dollars for tuition, and I’m not alone. The average college student in 2020 is expected to budget over $1,200 every year for textbooks according to the College Board. The high cost of textbooks can serve as a significant barrier for students, trapping academic success behind a paywall.

Rising textbook prices are due in part to the publishing monopoly that exists today, with three publishers controlling 80 percent of the textbook market, which makes it easy for publishers to raise prices without fear of losing business. The issue has gotten even worse in recent years due to the introduction of online access codes, which force students to pay for previously free class components such as homework and quizzes. Now, students are stuck spending money they don’t have to avoid failing a class without having a fair chance to succeed.

Fortunately, there is a solution that can ease the financial burden on students. Open textbooks are published under an open copyright license, which allows students to access them for free online. These textbooks are peer-reviewed and are written by experts in the field, making them of comparable quality to many traditional textbooks.

It’s time to stop supporting these reprehensible publishing practices and help students who are already struggling to pay for college get the education they deserve without having to pay exorbitant prices for textbooks.

-Ahmad Chughtai ’20