As soon as another semester begins, students and especially their parents experience an incredible spending. Tuition fee never seemed to drop, which is more, the cost of textbooks practically skyrocket in the last few years. Today it is common to pay $200-400 for a single college textbook which is already terrific for a family budget. Experts recommend that students’ annual budget for textbooks and supplies shall be no less than $1,200. Therefore, students need either to pay thousands of dollars or attend classes without a textbook.
For college and university students, it is practically impossible to choose the cheaper variant. First, their consumer’s choices are dictated by professors, and last, there is no cheaper variant in the market. About 5 publishers control the greater part of the textbook market and they do not allow any price-regulating mechanisms to affect their business. Normally, competition drags fairer prices in the marketplace, and consumers who do not buy expensive products influence prices well. But neither of these factors works with the textbook market. Publishers steadily raise their prices and do not fear any losses because students starting a new semester will pay practically any price for a required textbook.
To solve the problem of unaffordable textbooks, we need an alternative market. Students may buy second-hand books from those who are happy to sell out large heavy piles of paper they will never need. Another alternative is referring to faculty-written open textbooks. Published under an open license, faculty books are available in print for nearly a ten times cheaper price than textbooks from publishers. An open book industry is not as large as the traditional textbook market, but it is the only option which will help to abolish the monopoly of publishers.