Mission Critical: Change the Textbook Marketplace

In August 2015, The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a 1,041% increase in the cost of college textbooks between January 1977 and June 2015. Many experts have theorized textbook prices are a reflection of the market. Similar to the pharmaceutical industry where drug companies market to doctors, who write prescriptions, but it's patients and insurance companies who end up paying for the drugs. Likewise, publishers market to professors, not students, even though students are the ones left footing the bill. In addition, because textbooks are required, students must always purchase them so publishers are able to set the price of books regardless of demand since it's unchanging. Isn't it time to change the textbook marketplace?

College students are demanding change. They're practically screaming for it. Do a Google search for "Why are college textbooks so expensive" or "Why college textbooks should be free" and read for yourself the words of begging for better quality content at a lower cost.

One group of students set out to make a change by creating a petition on PetitionBuzz.com to make textbooks free:

"The point of textbooks are to educate students, not the worth of the Textbooks are mandatory and something college students need to pass most of their classes, however they are already paying for the classes so the books should not be another hundred or two for each course."

The petition also points out that many students can't afford the books, which can lead to a decrease in their education skills or level of learning on a particular topic.

What may surprise college students is many professors aren't even aware of the price students must pay to obtain their required text. And, those who do know the costs associated with textbooks aren't exactly thrilled about it.

Clemson University professor Leo Rebholz couldn't find a textbook he liked for his advanced mathematics course. His biggest issue with the options provided to him by publishers? The high cost of the books.

Rebholz ended up writing and publishing his own book, unconcerned with turning any real profit, just trying to offer his students a more affordable option.

But what if there was a better way? A method to publishing customized content that turns the textbook marketplace on its head. An approach that combines content created by instructors including and going beyond text with resources such as video, illustrations and slide shows with open educational resources (OER) and custom-developed content all in one, easy-to-use application.

Customized content shouldn't require professors to give up their rights to their content, nor should it come with a hefty price tag to students. That's why Skyepack works directly with professors and departments to develop course materials that fit the teaching style and course requirements of each class without requiring students to take out a loan. The result is a more engaging accompaniment to the course, happier students and happier instructors.

To learn more about how Skyepack is changing the textbook marketplace, check out the Textbook Liberation Fund.

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About the author

Brady Kalb Dec 15th, 2015

Brady Kalb is the CEO of Skyepack. Brady’s passion for education stems from his desire to "always be learning" and find innovative solutions to difficult problems, and experiences teaching various business and entrepreneurship classes at universities.