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Textbook Pricing


Textbooks: How are they priced?

Simply, textbooks cost more than general reading books because they are far more complex to create and publish.

Creating a textbook that reflects the highest scholarly endeavor requires considerable time, effort, and financial investment on the part of not only the author but also a full editorial team who must meticulously subject the content to close editorial scrutiny.

Compared to many popular titles, the potential demand for textbooks is generally very small. Many popular textbooks are published in small quantities; as a result there is no economy of scale in small press runs of a few thousand books.

Given the dramatic pace of change in some disciplines, such as the physical, allied health, and political sciences, a book’s content may be current for only two or three years, which limits the sales period for a particular title.

Color pictures, graphs, charts, formulas, and illustrations, along with copyright licensing fees, also add to the expense. In addition, most textbooks are printed on high quality paper and bound with an extra-durable binding.

Additional costs may also be incurred for support materials. These include materials from simple software applications to full simulations; from sample test questions to comprehensive tests; from instructors’ notes to full presentation slides.

Finally, according to the National Association of College Stores (, the price of a typical textbook (as reflected in the costs paid by the college stores to publishers) has increased by an average of almost 6% a year over the last six years, another factor adding to the concern about textbook prices.