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Petition with us for fair textbook pricing

March 31, 2010

When we decided to create a theme issue on Higher Education, we wanted not only to address the concerns of twenty-somethings in college but to try to help with those problems.  Part of this has been the creation of an online petition that would state students’ resolve to take action in protest of overpriced textbooks.

The action we are advocating is the use of students’ power as consumers to create change: the goal of this petition is to support informed consumerism, spread the word on alternatives to the artificially high price at which many textbooks are sold, and to encourage students to avoid purchasing overpriced texts when more affordable solutions are available.

Though the internet it the biggest bulletin board in the world, anybody who signs and wishes to take some initiative of their own is welcome to print out the petition and post it on a bulletin board at their school (if allowed).

For more information, you may wish to read about The College Textbook Affordability Act of 2007, which did not become law.  This petition was also inspired by Julienne’s August 2009 article, Textbook mark-ups threaten wallets, the first of a 2-part textbook exposé.

Please read the following petition and visit to sign.

Petition for Fair Textbook Pricing

We, the undersigned, recognize that on-campus bookstores are a valuable asset to students and a source of on-campus jobs in the United States, but we reject the idea that a 22.7% difference* between what college bookstores pay the manufacturer and the price at which they sell textbooks to students is acceptable.  Though new textbooks are available at lower prices elsewhere, colleges and universities have created systems in which the student is unable to obtain these better-priced textbooks before they are needed for class due to short notice from professors, or they are discouraged from doing so by professors demanding the latest (and often only slightly altered) editions; the requirement of latest textbook edition usage, in turn, can prevent students from selling their books back to the college stores at the end of the semester when editions have changed, contributing to unfair buyback policies that raise the overall cost of higher education to needlessly high levels.

Until on-campus stores begin charging fair prices for new textbooks and enact fair buyback policies, we, the undersigned,

pledge to purchase our textbooks from online retailers or buy used textbooks whenever possible,

vow to purchase new textbooks from campus stores that engage in inflationary practices only as a last resort, and, furthermore,

respectfully request that college and university professors give students advanced notice so that textbooks and other resources may be ordered online, and avoid adopting the latest editions of textbooks unless the differences between editions would have a serious effect on the quality of education that could not be compensated for by the professor him or herself.

To sign, please visit our online petition at

*According to the National Association of College Stores’ 2008 College Store Industry Financial Report

  1. Fred permalink
    April 2, 2010 11:15 am

    I understand your pain but protesting a 22.7% textbook margin by the college store borders on silly. The clothes on your back carry a margin at or above 100%. Text prices are high so aim your efforts at the publishers who set the prices paid by the bookstores, Amazon (new books) and all other resellers.

  2. Julienne permalink
    April 16, 2010 9:21 am

    Thanks for the comment, Fred. As you said, this is a pervasive problem. Through this petition (and articles on the TT) we are trying to bring light to this issue. If this entire industry (ie: all the players) start to take note, something can and will be done.

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