Why do University Books Cost so Much?

I am sure that most of us have started daydreaming about going to college or university when we were in school. But, getting admitted there does not come as easy as our dreams, it takes a whole lot of our savings and our parents’ hard work behind earning that money. Not only the admission & tuition fees but, even the books are so cost much in colleges & university unlike schools. Besides that, there are hostel accommodation, food expenses, and many other petty expenses on a routine day of your college life. It is a well-known fact that schools are cheaper than higher educational institutions in every aspect. Here we will see about Why do University Books Cost so Much?

               For this reason, many students take a break from their studies or either, opt to completely discontinue them after they passed high school. Because their parents couldn’t afford the high fees of colleges, children start working somewhere to earn a livelihood. Public Interest Research Groups released a report in 2014 stating that 67% of the surveyed students couldn’t afford the high cost of books. The main reasons for this increased cost can be many like the limited number of institutions providing quality and career-oriented higher education. Besides that, the factors are many which decide the price of the books. Let us have a look at them: – 

Why do University Books Cost so Much?
  1. Written by a renowned author or professor – Almost all university books are either written by some famous author, economist, or college professor. They charge a handsome amount of royalty and copyright fees from the publisher. So, to cover that cost, publishing houses raise the price of the book in the market.
  2. Research costs: – Some subjects’ books like science & technology, computer science, etc requires a lot of research work before compilation into a book. Money spent on the research is taken back by increasing the cost of the final product i.e. books.
  3. Depends on Subject: – It is not like all the books are costly in university, the subject of the book matters a lot. Usually, books related to Arts, Humanities, and History subjects are less expensive than books related to STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, & Maths).
  4. Taxes – Due to taxes levied by the government on higher education, the price is affected. In addition to the education cess, publishing houses have to pay a tax of 5% on the book value of their unsold inventory.
  5. Other Manufacturing Costs – Costs related to binding of the books, distribution, production, editing, etc play a significant role in the increased price of the books.

Is there an alternative way to escape & avoid paying the high costs?

Yes, every problem comes with a solution like a lock & key set but, only if you think wisely. You can save some bucks from your savings by thinking at least once on the below-mentioned points: –

  • Go for a second-hand version: You don’t have to always purchase a new book from the market, until or unless your professor has asked you to buy a particular edition. You can ask your seniors and buy from them their used books at a discounted price. In the past few years, some bookstores also started selling second-hand books.
  • Just Google It!! – by following the tagline of Google, students can also search for the material/content of the textbooks on the internet. There are also free PDFs of the books available on some sites, you can download them from there instead of spending a lot of money on the textbooks.
  • Rent your books – Rentals are a great way to recover some of the money back that you have spent buying the books at the start of your semesters. You can sell them back to the stores from where you bought them or give them to your university library from where junior students can rent them for their semesters.

Is the online content posted on the internet really to help you or is it a scam?

There are two different groups of people based on their opinions, related to this matter. One group thinks that the online textbooks have proved to be a boon for the college students as a monopoly by the publishers will be no longer in existence while the second group of people thinks that it is just a scam of the publishers to maintain the price level of the books, and ultimately they are going to be benefitted from it. The latter has a valid ground behind this opinion.

Nowadays, many textbooks are launched in software packages like CDs, etc. in addition to the hardcopy. Also, a few of them comes with some access codes, which we have to enter on the website of the publisher, to study the additional content other than textbooks. The disadvantage is that this code is a one-time password, after which it will not remain valid so, in the end, it hinders the buying & selling of second-hand books. In the end, publishers will get benefitted from this.


Although, textbooks are an essential part of the education system, no matter at whichever level you are studying. To succeed in examinations, you must have the necessary books & study materials with you but, you are available with many more options to have them instead of spending so much like you can borrow from a library or take a print out of only that topic which is not there in your old edition book. The decision is yours whether to spend or save. Be Wise!!