Textbooks prices have risen faster than tuition.
OpenStax College, a publisher based at Rice University, announced last week that the nonprofit would more than double the number of free online textbooks over the next two years.
Perhaps as noteworthy as the group’s plans to double its available titles is the three-year goal of OpenStax officials: to offer no-cost online textbooks for 25 of the most popular college courses while capturing 10 percent of the textbook market and saving students upwards of $750 million over five years.
Those massive five-year savings depend on OpenStax carving out a considerable spot in the competitive textbook market, of course, but Rice professor and OpenStax College founder Richard Baraniuk said it is a realistic and worthwhile goal.
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“Access is the future of higher education,” he said. “With student debt at an all-time high, it has never been more important to make education more affordable. Our textbooks do that — not just because they are free, but also because they are every bit as good as books that cost $100 or more.”
Cost savings for college students could be especially inviting in the wake of a January American Enterprise Institute report showing textbook prices have increased by more than 800 percent over the past 30 years, rising faster than health are costs, tuition, and inflation.
Why do textbook cost projections vary so widely?