Survey: Textbooks too pricey

The State Public Interest Research Groups found new editions of textbooks do not provide more information for the buck. According to a report released Tuesday, college textbooks cost in-state students one fifth of the cost of tuition and fees at a public four-year university.

In a press release posted on PIRGs’, Luke Swarthout, higher education associate with the State PIRGs, said the report showed that the new editions provide gimmicks to increase the cost of textbooks.

The study also found that 50 percent of the books analyzed were bundled with unnecessary CDs or workbooks.

Octavia Maxwell, 20, a junior business administration student from Miami said students should not have to buy the supplemental material.

“You go to the Web site and can get the same thing,” Maxwell said.

The report also showed that 55 percent of the bundled books surveyed without add-on material, which could provide students with a cheaper option, were unavailable. PIRGs’ report also showed that textbooks are sold for less overseas.

Bruce Hildebrand, executive director for higher education at The Association of American Publishers said, “In many cases, they are poor countries. If we do not sell them at lower prices we cannot sell books there.”

Barnes & Nobles, which owns the University bookstore, published a pamphlet titled “How textbooks are priced.”

Studies in the pamphlet show that over the last 20 years, textbooks have only gone up about as much as most other things we buy.

PIRGs’ report found that the wholesale prices charged by textbook publishers have jumped 62 percent since 1994, while prices charged for all finished goods increased only 14 percent.

Hildebrand, who said PIRGs’ study is an attack on publishers, also said the 62 percent figure not only included college textbooks, but also included elementary textbooks and other materials as well.

“They mislead the public and media when they put out those numbers,” Hildebrand said.

Angela Williams, FAMU’s bookstore manager said professors have the power to choose the books that they want for their classes.

Hildebrand said textbooks are much like cars and there are Ford Pintos and then there are Mercedes Benzes.

“The professors choose what they believe is best for their students’ education and the publishers provide it through the bookstore,” Hildebrand said.

“They could choose cheaper but they choose the best materials for you.”

To see the PIRGs report, visit

For information on AAP, visit

Contact Carla Jones at