Photo of textbooks.
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Textbook Information and Initiatives


Legislative Activity

The University's Response

MLibrary Textbook Services and Initiatives

Related Campus Activities


The cost of college textbooks imposes an increasingly significant financial burden on students and their families and, by extension, on university financial aid departments.  The extent of the problem is becoming increasingly evident: 

  1. Students and their families now spend more than $6 billion a year on new and used textbooks.

  2. Average annual cost of textbooks for four-year undergraduate students totals $1,000+ today.

  3. The average cost of books and supplies now amounts to about 26 % of the cost of tuition and fees.

  4. In the last two decades, college textbook prices have increased at twice the rate of inflation.

  5. Textbooks are re-released, on average, every 3.8 years.

  6. New textbook editions cost 58 % more than the older version, rising to an average cost of $102.44.

  7. Enhanced offerings of additional instructional materials (e.g. software, workbooks bundled into textbooks) contribute to the rising costs of textbooks.

Efforts to address the issue are taking place on a national and campus level.  The Higher Education Opportunity Act will take effect in 2010.  While its efficacy remains to be seen, the law ensures access to affordable course materials.  On the University of Michigan campus, the Textbook Task Force was established by the Office of Provost in December 2006.  The Task Force identified several factors impacting textbook costs, including the practices of textbook publishers, faculty selection and ordering of textbooks, bookseller ordering and pricing practices, and constraints on the used textbook market.  In accordance with its mission to support campus instructional activities, the University Library is taking steps to address the rising cost of textbooks.  Activities include exploring alternatives to traditional publishing models, licensing electronic versions of textbooks, and integrating with campus technology systems to promote ease of access and use.  This website provides an overview of congressional and campus activities addressing textbook costs. 

Page maintained by Susan Hollar
Last modified: 01/15/2014