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Another Viewpoint – College Textbooks

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A recent KSL editorial called for a “realistic tempering” of the cost of college textbooks. We based our comments on research conducted by several Public Interest Research Groups and endorsed by hundreds of college professors who detailed their concerns in letters to textbook publisher Thomson Learning.

Adam Gaber of Thomson Learning responded to KSL’s editorial. “I was surprised to see Thomson Learning singled out, given we have pioneered low cost, print series of textbooks and offer the greatest range of choices to customers.”

Gaber disputed PIRG claims that the average American college student spends $900 per year on textbooks. “For example,” he wrote, “Student Monitor research shows that the average student spends $625 a year on college textbooks, which is less than they spend annually on cell phones.”

As for claims publishers frequently increase textbook costs by issuing new editions with few changes, Gaber wrote: “The market itself determines whether a revision is necessary. If a new edition was not necessary, professors wouldn’t adopt the new book, forcing it off the market. On average new editions are created to reflect substantial changes in subject material every three to four years.”

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