High costs of textbooks explained by economics prof

September 10, 2014

McGill University economics professor Christopher Ragan explains in a recent Globe and Mail article why textbook costs can be so high compared to many other “trade” book of similar size. Ragan begins by explaining that publishing companies have a relatively low return on equity rate, often due to the competitive and risky nature of the industry. He then explains the 3 major reasons why textbook-production costs are so high and how those costs are deflected to the buyer: textbooks are considered authoritative sources of information, and are therefore subject to rigorous review processes; today’s textbooks are printed on high-quality paper, with considerable graphic design elements and full colour images; and lastly, today’s professors and students want an array of add-on features including instructor’s manuals, electronic lecture slides, multiple-choice exam questions, ebook access, and custom-designed online platforms to complement the textbooks. All of these items increase production costs significantly, which translates to higher costs for the purchaser. Globe and Mail (Subscription Required)