Textbook Lesson: How Students Can Save on Course Materials


OBERLIN, OHIO, February 18, 2016 – Most college textbooks cost a lot less than celebrity tweeters, like Kanye West, and many other people may think, according to the National Association of College Stores (NACS), which keeps its finger on the pulse of course materials.

The average cost of a new textbook is $79, based on NACS’ annual survey of independent campus stores. And while the cost of textbooks may increase over time, student spending is on the decline. According to Student Watch™: Attitudes and Behaviors toward Course Materials: Spring 2015, average annual spending by students on required course materials has dropped from $701 in 2007/2008 to $563 in 2014/2015, a 20 percent decline over the last seven years.

Students have many options beyond purchasing new textbooks, and it is because of the many options available today that student spending has decreased. Here are some of the options students should explore in their search for savings on course materials:

Rent, buy used or acquire electronic course materials. Almost all campus stores offer these options, giving cost-conscious students access to course materials for about one-third to half the price of buying new.

Shop early. Students should shop as early as possible in order to beat the beginning-of-semester rush. The sooner you shop, the more options you have, particularly with used and rental course materials.

Use price-comparison tools. Check the campus store’s website for a price-comparison tool. Students can save time and money by finding the best option at the best price.

Talk to the campus store. If students can’t find what they are looking for or simply want to know if there are lower cost options available, ask the campus store. The store’s employees are course material professionals and are happy to help.

Open educational resources (OER), educational materials that are in the public domain or with an open license, are also a cost-savings option for students. Many institutions encourage their professors to consider assigning OER on their syllabi, and some even have established programs to incentivize and fund faculty to develop original OER materials.

Campus stores work closely with professors and campus library staffs on OER initiatives and are partnering with companies such as OER industry leader OpenStax to stock low cost print copies of open textbooks.

“We support and champion student access to affordable course materials,” said Jenny Febbo, NACS spokesperson. “There are many cost options for students to explore, and their local campus store can help.”

About The National Association of College Stores:
The National Association of College Stores (NACS) is the professional trade association representing the $10 billion collegiate retailing industry. NACS represents nearly 3,000 campus retailers and approximately 1,000 industry-related companies that supply course materials and other merchandise and services to campus stores. NACS provides education and other resources that help its member stores support student success, the campus experience, and the academic missions of higher education institutions. NACS is headquartered in Oberlin, Ohio. Additional information can be found online at www.nacs.org.

Laura Massie
National Assn. of College Stores
(800) 622-7498 ext. 2351