It’s been about fifteen years since the first time I went to college. Oh … my … word. Prices have really gone up. Even accounting for inflation, textbooks are insane these days.
The most expensive textbook I bought during my first college go-around was about $75.00. I picked up my books the other day and paid $135.00 for my Biology text, and another $40.00 just for the lab book. Ouch. I ended up paying around $300.00 this semester just for books, let alone tuition and lab fees.
It gets worse for me when you factor in how much the printing costs are on these things. I used to work for a printing company, and so I happen to know something about that. If I had to guess, I’d say the actual printing costs for my very large, hard-back biology text was between $8 and $15 per book. To be honest, that’s on the high end. For some reason the text book publisher decided they needed to use expensive glossy coated paper on every single page. They could have cut costs by going with a decently weighted matte paper instead, and the books would have been just as effective.
The lab book is the real shocker, though. It’s done using a quick-printer like Kinko’s Copies, and then spiral bound (that’s the plastic spiral on the side). That probably cost around $5.00 or less. Even if you factor in the payments to the writers, print buyers, and other folks in the chain, that’s a huge markup for a book.
Maybe I’m in the wrong business. Maybe I should be a text book publisher. At least, until relatively inexpensive downloadable PDF textbooks become ubiquitous.