Tag Archives: Textbooks

How OER Texts Save Many $$$

This is an example of cross-mapping real world course syllabi to an open textbook, demonstrating that the open textbook covers all or most of the course content, thus permitting easy adoption and saving students thousands of dollars.

We compared Rutger University’s undergraduate Biology Course syllabi with our open biology textbooks. (See tables below). Rutger’s Bio 101 closely matches College Biology Vol 3 while their Bio 102 closely matches College Biology Vol 1.

Bio 101 & 102’s assigned textbook (Fall 2013) is Biology: Concepts & Investigations by M. Hoefnagels (2nd edition, 2011) Originally $225, now $39.51 used, rent $26.00 (Amazon.com).

The current edition is Biology: Concepts & Investigations by M. Hoefnagels (3rd edition, 2011) $211. Rent $94. (Amazon.com)

We’re convinced that the best choice is College Biology where the PDF is free and the print format per volume1 is only $39.20.

Why rent when you can own? Why pay 6 to 7 times more for the same content?

Depending up the next class-assigned textbook, saving range from $39.00 to $172 per student, which amounts to thousands of dollars per semester per college.

BTW – Textbook Equity’s Editors will customize any of our open textbooks to map to your class syllabus, create color textbooks, and add your own material. Output to PDF and print. (Example cross-mapping analysis below.)

Also See Textbook Equity College Services.
Service Fees. Write editors@textbookequity.org

Here’s the Rutger’s example:

Rutger University’s undergraduate biology syllabi cross-mapped to College Biology’s open licensed textbook volumes 1and 3.

Bio 101 Syllabus Topic College Biology’s Matching Chapter(s)
Week 1 Overview/Excretory System Chapter 41: Osmotic Regulation and Excretion
Week 2 Respiratory/Circulatory System Chapter 39: The Respiratory System / Chapter 40: The Circulatory System
Week 3 Nervous System/Senses Chapter 35: The Nervous System/Chapter 36: Sensory Systems
Week 4 Reproduction/ Embryonic Develop Chapter 43: Animal Reproduction and Development
Week 6 Immune System Chapter 42: The Immune System
Week 7 Plant Anatomy & Function Chapter 30: Plant Form and Physiology
Week 8 Plant Reproduction/Development Chapter 32: Plant Reproduction
Week 9 Plant Diversity Chapter 25: Seedless Plants, Chapter 26: Seed Plants
Week 10 Fungi Chapter 24: Fungi
Week 11 Animal Diversity Chapter 27: Introduction to Animal Diversity
Week 13 Population Ecology Chapter 45: Population and Community Ecology
Week 14 Communities & Ecosystems Chapter 46: Ecosystems
Week 15 Biodiversity Chapter 47: Conservation Biology and Biodiversity


Bio 102 Syllabus Topics College Biology’s Matching Chapter(s)
Week 1 Overview/Chemistry of Life Unit 1. The Chemistry of Life (Chap 1, 2, 3)
Week 2 Cells Unit 2. The Cell (Chap 4,5)
Week 3 The Energy of Life Chapter 6: Metabolism, Chapter 7: Cellular Respiration
Week 4 Photosynthesis Chapter 8: Photosynthesis
Week 6 Mitosis & Cell Cycle Chapter 10: Cell Reproduction
Week 7 Meiosis & Sexual Reproduction Chapter 11: Meiosis and Sexual Reproduction
Week 8 DNA & Gene Function Chapter 14: DNA Structure and Function
Week 10 Patterns of Inheritance Chapter 12: Mendel’s Experiments and Heredity, Chapter 13: Modern Understandings of Inheritance
Week 11 DNA Technology Chapter 17: Biotechnology and Genomics
Week 12 From the Big Bang to Life on Earth Chapter 20: Phylogenies and the History of Life
Week 13 Macro and Microevolution TBD
Week 14 Adaptation & Speciation Chapter 18: Evolution and the Origin of Species
Week 15 Animal Behavior TBD

A Textbook Price Study: 90% Ownership and Average Prices

In 1915 the most expensive textbook was about $2.50 for a Geometry textbook. (See “Textbook Prices in 1915“)  That is about $54 in today’s dollars.  Most geometry books today are around $70, or 30% above the price index rate.  More interesting, most of the textbooks in 1915 cost $1.50, which translates to $22 today.  Yet, based on the sample of 400 textbooks sold between 2010 and 2012 on Amazon.com (considered one of the cheapest sources of textbooks), the average price is $133 per textbook, or a staggering 6 times above the cost-of-living index rate.  Most textbooks range between $100 and $200 (80%). The primary reason that they cost so much is the ever increasing concentration of the textbook publishing industry through hundreds of acquisitions, resulting in the elimination of price competition, the established policies of schools that inhibit alternatives sources of textbooks, and somewhat the lack of awareness of professors about the cost of college textbooks they adopt for their classes.  There may be others, but those are the basic reasons that allowed textbook costs to soar for the past 100 years.

Based on a sample of 400 printed textbooks* sold by Amazon.com from the spring of 2010 through the spring of 2012:

  1. These 400 textbooks, covering 36 subjects, cost an average of $133, standard deviation is $36.  The most expensive textbook was a $256 chemistry textbook.  Chemistry, physics, business law, human anatomy, accounting, finance, math, economics, and calculus all had textbooks that cost more than $200.
  2. The subjects with the highest average cost were, in descending order, Engineering, Human Anatomy, Calculus, Chemistry, and Accounting.
  3. These 400 textbooks, on average, rose 4.4% from 2010 to 2012.  The STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) textbooks rose 10.2% for the same period.
  4. Seventy six percent of the textbooks were in their 4th to 13th edition.
  5. Psychology was the most popular textbook making the top 100 for all four semesters, followed by biology, business, and chemistry.
  6. The top three parent publishers, Pearson, Cengage, and McGraw-Hill accounted for 74% of the textbooks sold, each with over a 20% share .  The other parent publishers (Georg von Holtzbrinck, John Wiley & Sons, Wolters Kluwer N.V, Reed Elsevier, Informa plc) provided 17%, and 14 other publishers, who accounted for the remaining 9%, had a 6% or less share.  (As a side note, another Textbook Equity study found that gross margin on textbooks by these publishers range from 68 to 72%.  There is plenty of money left over for extensive marketing and overhead salaries.)

Average price by Subject Amazon.com Top 100 Textbooks
Good for bench-marking. Generally, used and e-textbooks run about 70% of printed prices.  Rentals run about half.  Open textbooks run from free to 30%.  Campus bookstores – considerably higher than Amazon’s prices. (Actual out of pocket for class material may vary.)

*Source of Data: Amazon.com Top 100 Textbooks Sold,  Spring 2010 – Spring 2012.