24.8.04

SEEKING PRICE COMPETITION. King at SCSU Scholars has a summary of developments on the textbook pricing front. Price competition can come none too soon for Northern Illinois University's students.
From 1998 to 2003, the price publishers’ charge for textbooks has increased 34.9 percent compared to 21.6 percent for all other books, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics. College bookstores have marked up the price of their textbooks by 5.9 percent in the same period, while other books had a mark up of only 3 percent.

The University Bookstore tries to stock as many used books as they can to give students savings, said Mitch Kielb, acting director of the Holmes Student Center. He said half their sales come from used books.
The unseen part of this story is the role of third-party payments in determining the price of textbooks. It's the same problem that arises in uninformed commentary about rising health care "costs": to the extent that insurers -- in medicine -- and financial aid -- in college -- pays for the services or the books, the buyer has less incentive to shop around, and the seller has less incentive to discover the least cost technology.

RUNNING EXTRA: Joanne Jacobs asks, "Does a Latin textbook need to be updated?"

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