Student Frustration With the Flawed Textbook Market Is Justified

Peyton Lofton:

On Monday, dozens of student government executives wrote a letter urging the Department of Labor to block a merger between two giants of the textbook industry. In May, McGraw-Hill and Cengage announced they would be pursuing a merger. As two of the five major textbook publishers that currently have 80 percent of the market, this merger would form the second-largest textbook publisher in the US.

Students are reasonably frustrated with the textbook market. Students spend an average of $1,200 a year on books and access codes to online course materials. That number has risen by over 1,000 percent since 1977. Textbook prices are so high that students often sacrifice their grades to avoid paying them. A 2014 study from the US Public Interest Research Group found that nearly two-thirds of students decided against buying a textbook because it was too expensive. Textbook prices are hindering the education of America’s students.