Student Spending on Textbooks Declines to $579 or Less during 2016-2017 Academic Year

Spending on course materials has declined by around 15% over the past decade

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Research from Student Monitor® and the National Association of College Stores (NACS) found that student spending on textbooks and course materials declined for the second year in a row. The Student Watch survey from NACS reported a $23 decline in spending from $602 in the 2015-2016 academic year to $579 in 2016-2017. Student Monitor reported a $64 decline from $607 in 2015-2016 academic year to $543 in 2016-2017. Spending on course materials has declined by around $100 over the past ten years (about 15%) when the average spend was between $672 and $701.

The transition to less expensive digital materials, increasing use of rental options for both print and digital materials, and a competitive retail market are among the factors that have led to the spending decline.

Both studies found the average price per unit (new, used, print, digital, or rented) was $66 during the 2016–2017 academic year. The cost of new print textbooks declined by around 13% from $91 in the 2015–2016 academic year to $80 in the 2016-2017 academic year, according to Student Monitor.

Specific reasons for the spending decline include:

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