Sustained Outrage

Students chiseled on rising textbook prices

West Virginia University student leaders worry about the rising costs of required textbooks and the low resale value of most of those texts at the WVU Bookstore, now run by Barnes and Noble College Booksellers. Our Sunday story details their concerns.

A number of reports point to a growing national concern about high textbook costs, especially in a troubled economy.

Students refer to a detailed report on those rising prices prepared for Congress and published by the U.S. Government Accountability Office in July 2005. The report, “College Textbooks: Enhanced Offerings Appear to Drive Recent Price Increases,” points out that textbook prices have risen at double the rate of inflation for the past 20 years (see GAO chart below). The GAO also provides a brief summary of this report.


Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is leading efforts to get federal legislation passed to protect students from excessive textbooks costs. Durbin’s Senate website has several other statements about rising textbook costs.

The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission created a “Statewide Task Force of Textbook Affordability,” which has not yet published its report. The commission’s website discusses the forthcoming report and has links to related news publications on this issue.

The Policy Commission also provides a place on its website for people to post their own comments about textbooks costs. People can read previously posted comments here.