October 18th, 2006

Vanitas desk

Price check

When I became a graduate student, I immediately started paying MUCH less for my textbooks. Everything was available in photocopy and on reserve. We were almost never expected to buy books for anything. Plus, we all knew how to use the library and use short-term loan quite competently. This was true in both the UK and Canada.

This also means that it's been the better part of ten years (!) since I last bought a full, normal load of textbooks. I don't know what was average, but I paid US$50-90 quite regularly per course back then. My current students are being asked to pay UKP 10 for two course readers. The one time I picked textbooks for a course in Canada, they came to about CA$45 for two books. (No idea if that was typical.) And so, since I'm picking out textbooks for next term, I started wondering:

For undergraduates in the U.S., what the general price per textbooks per course is these days? It'll vary from discipline to discipline and country to country, of course. There must be some sort of published study on this somewhere, at least for a number of different countries or disciplines.

For those who have ever been university students - what kinds of prices did you pay for textbooks, what disciplines, what country, and when?