Infographic: The Affordable Future of College Textbooks

The average college student spends about $900 every year just on textbooks. That, in addition to rising tuition costs, boarding costs and activity fees, is making college more expensive than it's ever been. Publishing pioneers and textbook innovators are pushing open textbooks, or works that students can read digitally, print out on their own or buy in a more traditional format. With reduced distribution costs, open source textbooks should save students some money while also allowing them to digest new information in their chosen format. put together an infographic that covers the movement to get more open textbooks on the market.

Infographics are always a bit of a hodgepodge of statistics culled from a variety of sources. Here, we sort through the clutter and pull out some of our favorite facts and figures:

  • It is estimated that the average college student spends $900 every year on new textbooks. The same student would spend only $184 each year if he or she were permitted to use open source textbooks. (Purchasing a combination of used books, rental books and e-books would run about $598 each year.)
  • While the average new textbook costs $171, a color copy of an open book would run a student $64 in printing fees.
  • By making the switch to open source textbooks, a 50-student algebra class would save $5,400, which is around the same price as a vacation to Europe; and a 185-student physics class would save $24,000, or the price of a new car.
  • If given the opportunity to use open source textbooks, 76 percent of students say they would be willing to pay a small fee to subsidize textbook production.
  • Advocates of open source books include the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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