Could technology cut rising cost, need for college textbooks?

The price of college textbooks keeps going up and many students are left with no choice but to rack up more debt to afford them. Student advocacy groups are saying it's time something is done to stop the gross inflation.

According to the College Board, the average student this year will spend $1,200 on books and supplies. A single textbook these days can run $200.

The price of textbooks skyrocketed by 82 percent between 2002 and 2013, without much change in the content of those books.

The student advocacy group U.S. PIRG found a large number of students surveyed admitted to not buying a textbook due to the cost, even though not having one would likely hurt their grade. Nearly half said the cost of textbooks factored in to which classes they decided to take.

But a new introduction to the college system could eliminate not only the high prices, but textbooks altogether.

Apple has a revamped iBook system where the company will provide electronic textbooks on its iPads for $15 or less.

If students decided to go the iBook route, they would have to determine if spending money on an iPad, if they don't already have one, is worth it instead of buying textbooks. And they would have see if Apple's list of electronic textbooks was sufficient to handle the demands of the curriculum.

Consumer advocates are fighting for the expansion of the market for 'open textbooks'. These are books that are online and free to download, and they are written by faculty and are peer-reviewed. They can be printed for anywhere from $20 to $40.

A spokesman for the Association of American Publishers defended the publishers, saying that the publishers are finding ways to make the material affordable to students. He said there is a website called CourseSmart, where students can rent all of their textbooks for $200 a semester.


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