Wondering why the drop-out rate from college is so high? One reason could be that a stunning 65% of students avoided buying textbooks due to the cost. As NBCNews reports, textbook prices have risen over three times the rate of inflation from January 1977 to June 2015, a 1,041 percent increase – dwarfing the government’s official CPI data. Just as government-subsidized healthcare has ‘enabled’ dramatic rises in the costs of drugs so government-subsidized education has sparked hyperinflation-esque pricing in college textbooks
As NBCNews reports, students hitting the college bookstore this fall will get a stark lesson in economics before they’ve cracked open their first chapter.Textbook prices are soaring. Some experts say it’s because they’re sold like drugs.
According to NBC’s review of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, textbook prices have risen over three times the rate of inflation from January 1977 to June 2015, a 1,041 percent increase.
“They’ve been able to keep raising prices because students are ‘captive consumers.’ They have to buy whatever books they’re assigned,” said Nicole Allen, a spokeswoman for the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition.
In some ways, this is similar to a pharmaceutical sales model where the publishers spend their time wooing the decision makers to adopt their product. In this case, it’s professors instead of doctors.
“Professors are not price-sensitive and they then assign and students have no say,” said Ariel Diaz, CEO of Boundless, a free and low-cost textbook publisher.
But whether individual students are paying a literal 1,041 percent more today than they were in 1977 is not the question, said Mark Perry, a professor of economics at the University of Michigan who has tracked rising textbook prices for years.
“College textbook prices are increasing way more than parents’ ability to pay for them,” he said. At the extreme end, one specialized chemistry textbook on his campus costs $400 at the campus bookstore.
How rising textbook prices mirrors rising drug costs…