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RAIDER Publishing: Textbook Affordability

Publishing affordable digital textbooks by TTU faculty for TTU students.

Rising Costs of Textbooks

According to College Board, students at a four-year public higher education institution, like Texas Tech, spend, on average, $1,250 annually on books and supplies.1 

And the National Association of College Stores states in their “Higher Education Retail Market Facts & Figures” that the average price of a new textbook increased from $58 in the 2011-12 school year to $80 in the 2015-16 school year.2

But how high are these numbers? These costs can be put into context when looking at the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the past 10 years.  The CPI for college tuition and fees is significantly higher than the university CPI, and the CPI for textbooks is even higher: 

Chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics which shows that the CPI for textbooks exceeds the CPI for tuition and fees.  Both of these CPIs greatly exceed the general CPI.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, College tuition and fees increase 63 percent since January 2006 on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2016/college-tuition-and-fees-increase-63-percent-since-january-2006.htm

This CPI data shows that the cost of college textbooks has a significantly higher impact on students than even 10 years ago.  The paycheck of a student who is working their way through school will not go as far or purchase as many textbooks as they might once have. 

The Importance of Affordable Textbooks

With their dollars not stretching as far, how does the increasing cost of textbooks impact students? Florida Virtual Campus surveyed students in Florida’s various public colleges and universities in 2012 and again in 2016 about textbook and course materials.3  These surveys collected data on the amount students spend on textbooks and the impact of these costs on students.  They found that students often attempt to reduce textbook costs through various means, including buying used copies, renting, borrowing from the library, or sharing with friends.

Additionally, one key takeaway from both surveys was the negative impact that the high cost of textbooks has on students’ access, success, and completion:

Chart descibing the negative impact of textbook costs on students, including almost 50% take fewer courses and about 2/3 just don't purchase the textbook.

From Florida Virtual Campus, “2016 Student Textbook and Course Materials Survey” https://florida.theorangegrove.org/og/items/3a65c507-2510-42d7-814c-ffdefd394b6c/1/

Not only do textbook costs significantly impact students’ course selection—influencing the number of and which classes they register for and if they complete a course—but it also impacts students’ grades, most likely because the students choose not to buy the textbook or resort to cost-saving measures, like sharing books among 2, 3, or more students. 

 

 

If we can lessen or remove this financial burden, ensuring that students can obtain textbooks without concern for their cost, these negative impacts will similarly lessen and student success will increase.

References

1. https://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/average-estimated-undergraduate-budgets-2017-18

2. https://www.nacs.org/research/HigherEdRetailMarketFactsFigures.aspx

3. 2012 Survey: http://www.openaccesstextbooks.org/pdf/2012_Florida_Student_Textbook_Survey.pdf

    2016 Survey: https://florida.theorangegrove.org/og/items/3a65c507-2510-42d7-814c-ffdefd394b6c/1/

Our Response: RAIDER Publishing Pricing

RAIDER Publishing emerged out of Texas Tech University Library’s affordable textbook initiative, which hopes to decrease textbook costs and increase affordability for students.  Thus, offering textbooks at an affordable pricing is central to our mission—it’s even the “A” in RAIDER!  
 
All of our books will be published in two cost brackets: low-cost and open.
  • Low-cost books will cost less than $50.*  The revenue from each sale will 
  1. Pay for the services we provide, including copyediting and peer-review and 
  2. Compensate the author and/or their sponsoring departments for creation and adoption of the work (Royalties)
  3. Any remaining revenue will be used to support RAIDER Publishing and other library textbook affordability initiatives
Low-cost is the default publishing option for books in RAIDER Publishing.
 
  • Open books will be available at no charge to users.  Books in this cost-bracket must have external funding to pay for the above costs 1 and 2.  RAIDER Publishing will work with authors who are interested in publishing an open book to identify and apply for funding.
 
*exact costs for each book will be determined on an individual basis. 

Other Responses: Open Educational Resources (OER)

Open Education Resources, more commonly known as OER, are “teaching, learning, and research resources that are free of cost and access barriers, and which also carry legal permission for open use” (SPARC).  In other words, an OER can be any resource used in teaching, learning, or research—from textbooks to lecture slides to videos used in class—which is digitally available for free to users and whose license allows for the 5Rs: Retain, Redistribute, Revise, Remix, and Redistribute.  

The benefits to OER extend beyond their lack of cost burden to students.  Since one does not have to purchase the text, they are available to students from day one of a class.  Additionally, the 5R permissions allow for the resources to be customized for a specific class and updated without reproach.

For more information on OER, please visit our OER Guide:

RAIDER Publishing and OER

The open works published by RAIDER Publishing will be considered OER.

Unfortunately, RAIDER Publishing does not currently offer services for remixing and revising OER.  However, such services are offered elsewhere in the library.  If you are interested in remixing or revising a preexisting OER, please contact the Digital Publishing Librarian.

Using Preexisiting OER

If you are interested in locating a preexisting OER, please visit our OER Guide:

Other Responses: Policy

The textbook affordability movement, and the OER movement more specifically, have gained momentum and widespread support, which has begun to be reflected in the state and federal legislation. 

Texas State Response: SB 810
Passed in June 2017, SB 810 is “an act relating to the purchase and use of open education resources.”  The bill outlines three OER initiatives
  1. Course Listings: The bill requires Texas Higher Education Institutions to clearly identify OER courses within their course catalog.  It also requires these course catalogs to include a search function whereby students can search for courses that use only OER.
  2. Grant Program: The bill requires the THECB to create a grant program for faculty who wish to adopt, modify, redesign, or develop courses that use only OER.  The details for this program have yet to be released.
  3. Statewide Repository: The bill requires THECB to conduct a study evaluating the feasibility of creating and maintaining a statewide repository for OER.

Federal Response: FY2018 Omnibus Appropriations Bill
The bill passed March 23, 2018, includes $5 million for an open textbook pilot program. The details for how this program will be implemented have yet to be released.