Make Textbooks Affordable

Everyone knows that textbook prices are outrageous. Students spend an average of $1,200 a year on textbooks and course materials, and prices have been rising more than four times the rate of inflation for the past two decades!

It’s no accident that textbooks are so expensive. Publishing companies are raking in huge profits while engaging in bad practices that drive up costs: issuing new editions that make used books hard to find, bundling textbooks with unnecessary CDs and pass-codes, and more. They get away with it because students don’t have a choice -- we’ve got to buy the book they’re selling, even if the price is outrageous.

The good news is that there are other options available. Students can save hundreds of dollars through discounted options like renting, buying used books and arranging bookswaps on campus.  

The real momentum however comes from lasting solutions like open-source textbooks, which could revolutionize the textbook market by offering free online access and reducing costs up to 80%. Open source textbooks are faculty-written and peer reviewed just like published textbooks, but they're available free online, free to download, and affordable in print.

So we're fighting to rein in costs by promoting cost-saving solutions on campus, while also tackling publishers' stranglehold on the market to change prices for good.  We're educating students, faculty and bookstores, and raising awareness through research and the media. We're also calling on publishers, colleges and foundations to give faculty the training and resources they need to adopt open-source textbooks and save students millions each year.

We'll need your help though to accomplish this goal; the administration will enact official change only once enough students start calling for a solution. Please join us in asking faculty to start adopting open-source textbooks into their classrooms.

We've now begun a partnership with ASUW to help get more open-source textbooks into classrooms!

Please also take the time to check out OpenStax College, a fantastic provider of open-source textbooks. 

QUESTIONS? Contact Our National Campaign Staff here.

Issue updates

News Release | Student PIRGs | Higher Ed, Textbooks

REPORT: Open Textbooks: The Billion-Dollar Solution

A report released today by the Student PIRGs shows that an alternative textbook model called open textbooks could save undergraduate students more than a billion dollar a year.

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Report | Student PIRGs | Textbooks

Open Textbooks: The Billion Dollar Solution

New report shows alternative textbook model could save students a billion dollars.

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How students are engaging textbook companies in a duel against high prices, and winning

Before entering the classroom of an intro-level economics course, students get a real-life experience with the subject — the required textbook costs $290 on Amazon.

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Media Hit | Textbooks

Students press profs to open minds to cheaper textbooks

Washington college students are trying to get more professors to adopt open textbooks, which are often free and widely available online.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund and the Student PIRGs | Higher Ed, Textbooks

Fixing the Broken Textbook Market

This study demonstrates that despite recent steps forward in the marketplace, high textbook costs will continue to be a problem for students unless the cost of high-priced, new editions of college textbooks comes down.

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