Textbook writers



A textbook is a
book A book is a medium for recording information in the form of writing or images, typically composed of many pages (made of papyrus, parchment, vellum, or paper) bound together and protected by a cover. The technical term for this physic ...
containing a comprehensive compilation of content in a branch of
study Study or studies may refer to: General * Education **Higher education * Clinical trial * Experiment * Observational study * Research * Study skills, abilities and approaches applied to learning Other * Study (art), a drawing or series of drawi ...
with the intention of explaining it. Textbooks are produced to meet the needs of educators, usually at educational institutions. Schoolbooks are textbooks and other books used in schools. Today, many textbooks are published in both print and digital formats.


The history of textbooks dates back to ancient civilizations. For example,
Ancient Greeks Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a northeastern Mediterranean civilization, existing from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of classical antiquity ( AD 600), that comprised a loose collection of cultu ...
wrote educational texts. The modern textbook has its roots in the mass production made possible by the printing press.
Johannes Gutenberg Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg (; – 3 February 1468) was a German inventor and craftsman who introduced letterpress printing to Europe with his movable-type printing press. Though not the first of its kind, earlier designs ...
himself may have printed editions of ''Ars Minor'', a schoolbook on Latin grammar by
Aelius Donatus Aelius Donatus (; fl. mid-fourth century AD) was a Roman grammarian and teacher of rhetoric. Works He was the author of a number of professional works, of which several are extant: *Ars maior – A commentary on Latin grammar. * Ars minor – ...
. Early textbooks were used by tutors and teachers (e.g. alphabet books), as well as by individuals who taught themselves. The Greek philosopher
Socrates Socrates (; ; –399 BC) was a Greek philosopher from Athens who is credited as the founder of Western philosophy and among the first moral philosophers of the ethical tradition of thought. An enigmatic figure, Socrates authored no ...
lamented the loss of knowledge because the media of transmission were changing. Before the invention of the
Greek alphabet The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language since the late 9th or early 8th century BCE. It is derived from the earlier Phoenician alphabet, and was the earliest known alphabetic script to have distinct letters for vowels as ...
2,500 years ago, knowledge and stories were recited aloud, much like
Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēros'') (born ) was a Greek poet who is credited as the author of the '' Iliad'' and the '' Odyssey'', two epic poems that are foundational works of ancient Greek literature. Homer is considered one of ...
's epic poems. The new technology of writing meant stories no longer needed to be memorized, a development Socrates feared would weaken the Greeks' mental capacities for memorizing and retelling. (Ironically, we know about Socrates' concerns only because they were written down by his student
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was a Greek philosopher born in Athens during the Classical period in Ancient Greece. He founded the Platonist school of thought and the Academy, the first institution ...
in his famous Dialogues.) The next revolution in the field of books came with the 15th-century invention of printing with changeable type. The invention is attributed to German metalsmith Johannes Gutenberg, who cast type in molds using a melted metal alloy and constructed a wooden-screw
printing press A printing press is a mechanical device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium (such as paper or cloth), thereby transferring the ink. It marked a dramatic improvement on earlier printing methods in which the ...
to transfer the image onto paper. Gutenberg's first and only large-scale printing effort was the now iconic
Gutenberg Bible The Gutenberg Bible (also known as the 42-line Bible, the Mazarin Bible or the B42) was the earliest major book printed using mass-produced movable metal type in Europe. It marked the start of the " Gutenberg Revolution" and the age of printed ...
in the 1450s — a Latin translation from the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek
New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus, as well as events in first-century Chris ...
. Gutenberg's invention made mass production of texts possible for the first time. Although the Gutenberg Bible itself was expensive, printed books began to spread widely over European trade routes during the next 50 years, and by the 16th century, printed books had become more widely accessible and less costly. While many textbooks were already in use,
compulsory education Compulsory education refers to a period of education that is required of all people and is imposed by the government. This education may take place at a registered school or at other places. Compulsory school attendance or compulsory schooling ...
and the resulting growth of schooling in Europe led to the printing of many more textbooks for children. Textbooks have been the primary teaching instrument for most children since the 19th century. Two textbooks of historical significance in United States schooling were the 18th century
New England Primer ''The New England Primer'' was the first reading primer designed for the American colonies. It became the most successful educational textbook published in 17th-century colonial United States and it became the foundation of most schooling bef ...
and the 19th century
McGuffey Readers The Eclectic Readers (commonly, but informally known as the McGuffey Readers) were a series of graded primers for grade levels 1–6. They were widely used as textbooks in American schools from the mid-19th century to the early 20th century, and ...
. Recent technological advances have changed the way people interact with textbooks. Online and digital materials are making it increasingly easy for students to access materials other than the traditional print textbook. Students now have access to electronic books ("e-books"), online tutoring systems and video lectures. An example of an e-book is ''
Principles of Biology ''Principles of Biology'' is a college level biology electronic textbook published by Nature Publishing in 2011. The book is not a digitally reformatted version of a paper book. The book, the first in a projected series, is Nature Publishing's ...
'' from Nature Publishing. Most notably, an increasing number of authors are avoiding commercial publishers and instead offering their textbooks under a
creative commons Creative Commons (CC) is an American non-profit organization and international network devoted to educational access and expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share. The organization has relea ...
or other open license.


The market for textbooks

As in many industries, the number of providers has declined in recent years (there are just a handful of major textbook companies in the United States). Also, elasticity of demand is fairly low. The term "broken market" appeared in the economist James Koch's analysis of the market commissioned by the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance. In the United States, the largest textbook publishers are
Pearson Education Pearson Education is a British-owned education publishing and assessment service to schools and corporations, as well for students directly. Pearson owns educational media brands including Addison–Wesley, Peachpit, Prentice Hall, eColle ...
Cengage Cengage Group is an American educational content, technology, and services company for the higher education, K-12, professional, and library markets. It operates in more than 20 countries around the world.(Jun 27, 2014Global Publishing Leaders ...
McGraw-Hill Education McGraw Hill is an American educational publishing company and one of the "big three" educational publishers that publishes educational content, software, and services for pre-K through postgraduate education. The company also publishes referen ...
, and Wiley. Together they control 90% of market revenue. Another textbook publisher is
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (; HMH) is an American publisher of textbooks, instructional technology materials, assessments, reference works, and fiction and non-fiction for both young readers and adults. The company is based in the Boston Fina ...
. The market for textbooks doesn't reflect classic supply and demand because of agency problems.

New editions and the used book market in the United States

Some students save money by buying used copies of textbooks, which tend to be less expensive, and are available from many college bookstores in the US, who buy them back from students at the end of a term. Books that are not being re-used at the school are often purchased by an off-campus wholesaler for 0-30% of the new cost, for distribution to other bookstores. Some textbook companies have countered this by encouraging teachers to assign homework that must be done on the publisher's website. Students with a new textbook can use the pass code in the book to register on the site; otherwise they must pay the publisher to access the website and complete assigned homework. Students who look beyond the campus bookstore can typically find lower prices. With the ISBN or title, author and edition, most textbooks can be located through online used booksellers or retailers. Most leading textbook companies publish a new edition every 3 or 4 years, more frequently in math and science. Harvard economics chair James K. Stock has stated that new editions are often not about significant improvements to the content. "New editions are to a considerable extent simply another tool used by publishers and textbook authors to maintain their revenue stream, that is, to keep up prices." A study conducted by The Student PIRGs found that a new edition costs 12% more than a new copy of the previous edition (not surprising if the old version is obsolete), and 58% more than a used copy of the previous edition. Textbook publishers maintain these new editions are driven by demand from teachers. That study found that 76% of teachers said new editions were justified “half of the time or less” and 40% said they were justified “rarely” or “never”.Rip-off 101: How the Current Practices of the Textbook Industry Drive Up the Cost of College Textbooks
The Student PIRGs (2004)
The PIRG study has been criticized by publishers, who argue that the report contains factual inaccuracies regarding the annual average cost of textbooks per student. The Student PIRGs also point out that recent emphasis on e-textbooks does not always save students money. Even though the book costs less up-front, the student will not recover any of the cost through resale.Allen, Nicole
Course Correction: How Digital Textbooks Are Off Track and How to Set Them Straight
. The Student PIRGs (2008)

Bundling in the United States

Another publishing industry practice that has been highly criticized is "bundling", or shrink-wrapping supplemental items into a textbook. Supplemental items range from CD-ROMs and workbooks to online passcodes and bonus material. Students often cannot buy these things separately, and often the one-time-use supplements destroy the resale value of the textbook.Required Reading: A Look at the Words Publishing Tactics at Work
, The Student PIRGs (2006)
According to the Student PIRGs, the typical bundled textbook is 10%-50% more than an unbundled textbook, and 65% of professors said they “rarely” or “never” use the bundled items in their courses. A 2005
Government Accountability Office The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is a legislative branch government agency that provides auditing, evaluative, and investigative services for the United States Congress. It is the supreme audit institution of the federal gover ...
(GAO) Report in the United States found that the production of these supplemental items was the primary cause of rapidly increasing prices:
While publishers, retailers, and wholesalers all play a role in textbook pricing, the primary factor contributing to increases in the price of textbooks has been the increased investment publishers have made in new products to enhance instruction and learning...While wholesalers, retailers, and others do not question the quality of these materials, they have expressed concern that the publishers’ practice of packaging supplements with a textbook to sell as one unit limits the opportunity students have to purchase less expensive used books....If publishers continue to increase these investments, particularly in technology, the cost to produce a textbook is likely to continue to increase in the future.College Textbooks: Enhanced Offerings Appear to Drive Recent Price Increases
." U.S. Government Accountability Office, Washington, DC, 2005. Abstract. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
Bundling has also been used to segment the used book market. Each combination of a textbook and supplemental items receives a separate ISBN. A single textbook could therefore have dozens of ISBNs that denote different combinations of supplements packaged with that particular book. When a bookstore attempts to track down used copies of textbooks, they will search for the ISBN the course instructor orders, which will locate only a subset of the copies of the textbook. Legislation at state and federal levels seeks to limit the practice of bundling, by requiring publishers to offer all components separately.Analysis of Textbook Affordability Provisions in H.R. 4137
, The Student PIRGs
Publishers have testified in favor of bills including this provision, but only in the case that the provision exempts the loosely defined category of "integrated textbooks." The Federal bill only exempts 3rd party materials in integrated textbooks, however publisher lobbyists have attempted to create a loophole through this definition in state bills.Summarized History for Bill Number SB08-073
. Colorado General Assembly, 2008. Last updated 04 August 2008. Retrieved 07 October 2011.

Price disclosure

Given that the problem of high textbook prices is linked to the "broken" economics of the market, requiring publishers to disclose textbook prices to faculty is a solution pursued by a number of legislatures. By inserting price into sales interactions, this regulation will supposedly make the economic forces operate more normally. No data suggests that this is in fact true. However, The Student PIRGs have found that publishers actively withhold pricing information from faculty, making it difficult to obtain. Their most recent study found that 77% of faculty say publisher sales representatives do not volunteer prices, and only 40% got an answer when they directly asked. Furthermore, the study found that 23% of faculty rated publisher websites as “informative and easy to use” and less than half said they typically listed the price. The US Congress passed a law in the 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act that would require price disclosure. Legislation requiring price disclosure has passed in Connecticut, Washington, Minnesota, Oregon, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Colorado. Publishers are currently supporting price disclosure mandates, though they insist that the "suggested retail price" should be disclosed, rather than the actual price the publisher would get for the book.

Used textbook market

Once a textbook is purchased from a retailer for the first time, there are several ways a student can sell his/her textbooks back at the end of the semester or later. Students can sell to 1) the college/university bookstore; 2) fellow students; 3) numerous online websites; or 4) a student swap service.

Campus buyback

As for buyback on a specific campus, faculty decisions largely determine how much a student receives. If a professor chooses to use the same book the following semester, even if it is a custom text, designed specifically for an individual instructor, bookstores often buy the book back. The GAO report found that, generally, if a book is in good condition and will be used on the campus again the next term, bookstores will pay students 50 percent of the original price paid. If the bookstore has not received a faculty order for the book at the end of the term and the edition is still current, they may offer students the wholesale price of the book, which could range from 5 to 35 percent of the new retail price, according to the GAO report. When students resell their textbooks during campus “buyback” periods, these textbooks are often sold into the national used textbook distribution chain. If a textbook is not going to be used on campus for the next semester of courses then many times the college bookstore will sell that book to a national used book company. The used book company then resells the book to another college bookstore. Finally, that book is sold as used to a student at another college at a price that is typically 75% of the new book price. At each step, a markup is applied to the book to enable the respective companies to continue to operate.

Student to student sales

Students can also sell or trade textbooks among themselves. After completing a course, sellers will often seek out members of the next enrolling class, people who are likely to be interested in purchasing the required books. This may be done by posting flyers to advertise the sale of the books or simply soliciting individuals who are shopping in the college bookstore for the same titles. Many larger schools have independent websites set up for the purpose of facilitating such trade. These often operate much like digital classified ads, enabling students to list their items for sale and browse for those they wish to acquire. Also, at the
US Air Force Academy The United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) is a United States service academy in El Paso County, Colorado, immediately north of Colorado Springs. It educates cadets for service in the officer corps of the United States Air Force and Uni ...
, it is possible to
e-mail Electronic mail (email or e-mail) is a method of exchanging messages ("mail") between people using electronic devices. Email was thus conceived as the electronic ( digital) version of, or counterpart to, mail, at a time when "mail" mean ...
entire specific classes, allowing for an extensive network of textbook sales to exist.

Student online marketplaces

Online marketplaces are one of the two major types of online websites students can use to sell used textbooks. Online marketplaces may have an
online auction An online auction (also electronic auction, e-auction, virtual auction, or eAuction) is an auction held over the internet and accessed by internet connected devices. Similar to in-person auctions, online auctions come in a variety of types, with ...
format or may allow the student to list their books for a fixed price. In either case, the student must create the listing for each book themselves and wait for a buyer to order, making the use of marketplaces a more passive way of selling used textbooks. Unlike campus buyback and online book, students are unlikely to sell all their books to one buyer using online marketplaces, and will likely have to send out multiple books individually.

Online book buyers

Online book buyers buy textbooks, and sometimes other types of books, with the aim of reselling them for a profit. Like online marketplaces, online book buyers operate year-round, giving students the opportunity to sell their books even when campus "buyback" periods are not in effect. Online book buyers, who are often online book sellers as well, will sometimes disclaim whether or not a book can be sold back prior to purchase. Students enter the
ISBN The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier that is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency. An ISBN is assigned to each separate edition and ...
numbers of the books they wish to sell and receive a price quote or offer. These online book buyers often offer "free shipping" (which in actuality is built into the offer for the book), and allow students to sell multiple books to the same source. Because online book buyers are buying books for resale, the prices they offer may be lower than students can get on online marketplaces. However, their prices are competitive, and they tend to focus on the convenience of their service. Some even claim that buying used textbooks online and selling them to online book buyers has a lower total cost than even textbook rental services.

Textbook exchanges

In response to escalating textbook prices, limited competition, and to provide a more efficient system to connect buyers and sellers together, online textbook exchanges were developed. Most of today's sites handle buyer and seller payments, and usually deduct a small commission only after the sale is completed. According to textbook author Henry L. Roediger (and Wadsworth Publishing Company senior editor Vicki Knight), the used textbook market is illegitimate, and entirely to blame for the rising costs of textbooks. As methods of "dealing with this problem", he recommends making previous editions of textbooks obsolete, binding the textbook with other materials, and passing laws to prevent the sale of used books. The concept is not unlike the limited licensing approach for computer software, which places rigid restrictions on resale and reproduction. The intent is to make users understand that the content of any textbook is the intellectual property of the author and/or the publisher, and that as such, subject to copyright. Obviously, this idea is completely opposed to the millennia-old tradition of the sale of used books, and would make that entire industry illegal.


Another alternative to save money and obtaining the materials you are required are e-textbooks. The article "E books rewrite the rules of education" states that, alternately to spending a lot of money on textbooks, you can purchase an e-textbook at a small amount of the cost. With the growth of digital applications for iPhone, and gadgets like the Amazon kindle, e-textbooks are not an innovation, but have been "gaining momentum". According to the article " Are textbooks obsolete?", publishers and editorials are concerned about the issue of expensive textbooks. "The expense of textbooks is a concern for students, and e-textbooks, address the face of the issue, Williams says " As publishers we understand the high cost of these materials, and the electronic format permit us diminish the general expense of our content to the market". E-textbook applications facilitate similar experiences to physical textbooks by allowing the user to highlight and take notes in-page. These applications also extend textbook learning by providing quick definitions, reading the text aloud, and search functionality.

Rental programs

In-store rentals are processed by either using a kiosk and ordering books online with a third party facilitator or renting directly from the store's inventory. Some stores use a hybrid of both methods, opting for in-store selections of the most popular books and the online option for more obscure titles or books they consider too risky to put in the rental system. Rented items can be used for a set duration of time, then are required to be returned to the physical store or shipped back to the third party facilitator by the rental due date. Writing and highlighting is sometimes allowed in rented items, although excessive markup which makes the item unrentable is discouraged. Overdue items are often charged a fee up to the retail price of the rented item. Rented items typically do not include supplemental materials such as access codes, CDs, or loose-leafs.

Textbook sharing

Using textbook sharing, students share the physical textbook with other students, and the cost of the book is divided among the users of the textbook. Over the life of the textbook, if 4 students use the textbook, the cost of the textbook for each student will be 25% of the total cost of the book.

Open textbooks

The latest trend in textbooks is "open textbooks." An
open textbook An open textbook is a textbook licensed under an open license, and made available online to be freely used by students, teachers and members of the public. Many open textbooks are distributed in either print, e-book, or audio formats that may be do ...
is a free, openly licensed textbook offered online by the copyright holders. According to PIRG, a number of textbooks already exist, and are being used at schools such as MIT and Harvard. A 2010 study published found that open textbooks offer a viable and attractive means to meet faculty and student needs while offering savings of approximately 80% compared to traditional textbook options. Although the largest question seems to be who is going to pay to write them, several state policies suggest that public investment in open textbooks might make sense. To offer another perspective, any jurisdiction might find itself challenged to find sufficient numbers of credible academics who would be willing to undertake the effort of creating an open textbook without realistic compensation, in order to make such a proposal work. Currently, some open textbooks have been funded with non-profit investment. The other challenge involves the reality of publishing, which is that textbooks with good sales and profitability subsidize the creation and publication of low demand but believed to be necessary textbooks. Subsidies skew markets and the elimination of subsidies is disruptive; in the case of low demand textbooks the possibilities following subsidy removal include any or all of the following: higher retail prices, a switch to open textbooks, a reduction of the number of titles published. On the other hand, independent open textbook authoring and publishing models are developing. Most notably, the startup publisher
Flat World Knowledge FlatWorld is a publisher of college-level textbooks and educational supplements for a worldwide audience founded in 2007 as Flat World Knowledge by Eric Frank and Jeff Shelstad. It was acquired at the end of 2016 by Alastair Adam and John Eielson ...
already has dozens of college-level open textbooks that are used by more than 900 institutions in 44 countries. Their business model was to offer the open textbook free online, and then sell ancillary products that students are likely to buy if prices are reasonable - print copies, study guides,
ePub EPUB is an e-book file format that uses the ".epub" file extension. The term is short for ''electronic publication'' and is sometimes styled ''ePub''. EPUB is supported by many e-readers, and compatible software is available for most smartpho ...
, .Mobi ( Kindle), PDF download, etc. Flat World Knowledge compensates its authors with
royalties A royalty payment is a payment made by one party to another that owns a particular asset, for the right to ongoing use of that asset. Royalties are typically agreed upon as a percentage of gross or net revenues derived from the use of an asset o ...
on these sales. With the generated revenue Flat World Knowledge funded high-quality publishing activities with a goal of making the Flat World financial model sustainable. However, in January, 2013 Flat World Knowledge announced their financial model could no longer sustain their free-to-read options for students. Flat World Knowledge intends to have open textbooks available for the 125 highest-enrolled courses on college campuses within the next few years. CK-12 FlexBooks are the open textbooks designed for United States K-12 courses. CK-12 FlexBooks are designed to facilitate conformance to national and United States and individual state textbook standards. CK-12 FlexBooks are licensed under a
Creative Commons Creative Commons (CC) is an American non-profit organization and international network devoted to educational access and expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share. The organization has relea ...
BY-NC-SA A Creative Commons (CC) license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted "work".A "work" is any creative material made by a person. A painting, a graphic, a book, a song/lyrics ...
license. CK-12 FlexBooks are free to use online and offer formats suitable for use on portable personal reading devices and computers - both online and offline. Formats for both
iPad The iPad is a brand of iOS and iPadOS-based tablet computers that are developed by Apple Inc. The iPad was conceived before the related iPhone but the iPhone was developed and released first. Speculation about the development, operating ...
and Kindle are offered. School districts may select a title as is or customize the open textbook to meet local instructional standards. The file may be then accessed electronically or printed using any
print on demand Print on demand (POD) is a printing technology and business process in which book copies (or other documents, packaging or materials) are not printed until the company receives an order, allowing prints of single or small quantities. While oth ...
service without paying a royalty, saving 80% or more when compared to traditional textbook options. An example print on demand open textbook title, "College Algebra" by Stitz & Zeager through Lulu is 608 pages, royalty free, and costs about $20 ordered one at a time (March, 2011). ''(Any print on demand service could be used - this is just an example. School districts could easily negotiate even lower prices for bulk purchases to be printed in their own communities.)'' Teacher's editions are available for educators and parents. Titles have been authored by various individuals and organizations and are vetted for quality prior to inclusion in the CK-12 catalog. An effort is underway to map state educational standards correlations.
Stanford University Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a private research university in Stanford, California. The campus occupies , among the largest in the United States, and enrolls over 17,000 students. Stanford is conside ...
provided a number of titles in use.
Curriki Curriki is an online, free, open education service. Curriki is structured as a nonprofit organization to provide open educational resources primarily in support of K-12 education. Curricula and instructional materials are available at the Curriki w ...
is another modular K-12 content non-profit "empowering educators to deliver and share curricula." Selected Curriki materials are also correlated to U.S. state educational standards. Some Curriki content has been collected into open textbooks and some may be used for modular lessons or special topics.

International market pricing

Similar to the issue of reimportation of
pharmaceuticals A medication (also called medicament, medicine, pharmaceutical drug, medicinal drug or simply drug) is a drug used to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent disease. Drug therapy (pharmacotherapy) is an important part of the medical field an ...
into the U.S. market, the GAO report also highlights a similar phenomenon in textbook distribution. Retailers and publishers have expressed concern about the re-importation of lower-priced textbooks from international locations. Specifically, they cited the ability students have to purchase books from online distribution channels outside the United States at lower prices, which may result in a loss of sales for U.S. retailers. Additionally, the availability of lower-priced textbooks through these channels has heightened distrust and frustration among students regarding textbook prices, and college stores find it difficult to explain why their textbook prices are higher, according to the National Association of College Stores. Retailers and publishers have also been concerned that some U.S. retailers may have engaged in reimportation on a large scale by ordering textbooks for entire courses at lower prices from international distribution channels. While the 1998
Supreme Court A supreme court is the highest court within the hierarchy of courts in most legal jurisdictions. Other descriptions for such courts include court of last resort, apex court, and high (or final) court of appeal. Broadly speaking, the decisions ...
decision Quality King v. L'anza protects the reimportation of copyrighted materials under the
first-sale doctrine The first-sale doctrine (also sometimes referred to as the "right of first sale" or the "first sale rule") is an American legal concept that limits the rights of an intellectual property owner to control resale of products embodying its intellec ...
, textbook publishers have still attempted to prevent the U.S. sale of international editions by enforcing contracts which forbid foreign wholesalers from selling to American distributors. Concerned about the effects of differential pricing on college stores, the National Association of College Stores has called on publishers to stop the practice of selling textbooks at lower prices outside the United States. For example, some U.S. booksellers arrange for drop-shipments in foreign countries which are then re-shipped to America where the books can be sold online at used prices (for a "new" unopened book). The authors often getting half-royalties instead of full-royalties, minus the charges for returned books from bookstores.


Cost distribution

According to the National Association of College Stores, the entire cost of the book is justified by expenses, with typically 11.7% of the price of a new book going to the author's royalties (or a committee of editors at the publishing house), 22.7% going to the store, and 64.6% going to the publisher. The store and publisher amounts are slightly higher for Canada. Bookstores and used-book vendors profit from the resale of textbooks on the used market, with publishers only earning profits on sales of new textbooks.


According to the GAO study published July 2005:
Following closely behind annual increases in tuition and fees at postsecondary institutions, college textbook and supply prices have risen at twice the rate of annual inflation over the last two decades. Rising at an average of 6 percent each year since academic year 1987-1988, compared with overall average price increases of 3 percent per year, college textbook and supply prices trailed tuition and fee increases, which averaged 7 percent per year. Since December 1986, textbook and supply prices have nearly tripled, increasing by 186 percent, while tuition and fees increased by 240 percent and overall prices grew by 72 percent. While increases in textbook and supply prices have followed increases in tuition and fees, the cost of textbooks and supplies for degree-seeking students as a percentage of tuition and fees varies by the type of institution attended. For example, the average estimated cost of books and supplies per first-time, full-time student for academic year 2003-2004 was $898 at 4-year public institutions, or about 26 percent of the cost of tuition and fees. At 2-year public institutions, where low-income students are more likely to pursue a degree program and tuition and fees are lower, the average estimated cost of books and supplies per first-time, full-time student was $886 in academic year 2003-2004, representing almost three-quarters of the cost of tuition and fees.
According to the 2nd edition of a study by the United States Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG) published in February 2005: ''"Textbook prices are increasing at more than four times the inflation rate for all finished goods, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Producer Price Index. The wholesale prices charged by textbook publishers have jumped 62 percent since 1994, while prices charged for all finished goods increased only 14 percent. Similarly, the prices charged by publishers for general books increased just 19 percent during the same time period."'' According to the 2007 edition of the College Board's Trend in College Pricing Report published October 2007: ''"College costs continue to rise and federal student aid has shown slower growth when adjusted for inflation, while textbooks, as a percentage of total college costs, have remained steady at about 5 percent."''

K-12 textbooks

In most U.S.
K-12 K-1 is a professional kickboxing promotion established in 1993, well known worldwide mainly for its heavyweight division fights and Grand Prix tournaments. In January 2012, K-1 Global Holdings Limited, a company registered in Hong Kong, acquired ...
public schools, a local school board votes on which textbooks to purchase from a selection of books that have been approved by the state Department of Education. Teachers receive the books to give to the students for each subject. Teachers are usually not required to use textbooks, however, and many prefer to use other materials instead. Textbook publishing in the U.S. is a business primarily aimed at large states. This is due to state purchasing controls over the books, most notably in Texas, where the
Texas Education Agency The Texas Education Agency (TEA) is the branch of the government of Texas responsible for public education in Texas in the United States.
sets curricula for all courses taught by the state's 1,000+ school districts, and therefore also approves which textbooks can be purchased. Commonly used American history textbooks are customized for students in California and Texas.

High school

In recent years, high school textbooks of United States history have come under increasing criticism. Authors such as
Howard Zinn Howard Zinn (August 24, 1922January 27, 2010) was an American historian, playwright, philosopher, socialist thinker and World War II veteran. He was chair of the history and social sciences department at Spelman College, and a political ...
A People's History of the United States '' A People's History of the United States'' is a 1980 nonfiction book by American historian and political scientist Howard Zinn. In the book, Zinn presented what he considered to be a different side of history from the more traditional "fund ...
''), Gilbert T. Sewall ('' Textbooks: Where the Curriculum Meets the Child'') and James W. Loewen ('' Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong''), make the claim that U.S. history textbooks contain mythical untruths and omissions, which paint a whitewashed picture that bears little resemblance to what most students learn in universities. Inaccurately retelling history, through textbooks or other literature, has been practiced in many societies, from ancient
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus ( legendary) , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption ...
to the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a List of former transcontinental countries#Since 1700, transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, ...
(USSR) and the
People's Republic of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's most populous country, with a population exceeding 1.4 billion, slightly ahead of India. China spans the equivalent of five time zones an ...
. The content of history textbooks is often determined by the political forces of state adoption boards and ideological pressure groups. Science textbooks have been the source of ongoing debates and have come under scrutiny from several organizations. The presentation or inclusion of controversial scientific material has been debated in several court cases. Poorly designed textbooks have been cited as contributing to declining grades in mathematics and science in the United States and organizations such as the
American Academy of Arts and Sciences The American Academy of Arts and Sciences (abbreviation: AAA&S) is one of the oldest learned societies in the United States. It was founded in 1780 during the American Revolution by John Adams, John Hancock, James Bowdoin, Andrew Oliver, ...
(AAAS) have criticized the layout, presentation, and amount of material given in textbooks. Discussions of textbooks have been included on
creation Creation may refer to: Religion *''Creatio ex nihilo'', the concept that matter was created by God out of nothing *Creation myth, a religious story of the origin of the world and how people first came to inhabit it *Creationism, the belief that ...
evolution Evolution is change in the heredity, heritable Phenotypic trait, characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. These characteristics are the Gene expression, expressions of genes, which are passed on from parent to ...
in the public education debate. The ''
Smith v. Board of School Commissioners of Mobile County ''Smith v. Board of School Commissioners of Mobile County'', 827 F.2d 684 (11th Cir. 1987),''Smith v. Bd. of School Com'rs of Mobile Cnty.'', was a lawsuit in which the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that the Mobil ...
'' case brought forward a debate about scientific fact being presented in textbooks. In his book, ''
Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! ''"Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!": Adventures of a Curious Character'' is an edited collection of reminiscences by the Nobel Prize–winning physicist Richard Feynman. The book, released in 1985, covers a variety of instances in Feynman's ...
'', the late physics
Nobel Prize The Nobel Prizes ( ; sv, Nobelpriset ; no, Nobelprisen ) are five separate prizes that, according to Alfred Nobel's will of 1895, are awarded to "those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind." Alfre ...
laureate Richard P. Feynman described his experiences as a member of a committee that evaluated science textbooks. At some instances, there were nonsensical examples to illustrate physical phenomena; then a company sent — for reasons of timing — a textbook that contained blank pages, which even got good critiques. Feynman himself experienced attempts at bribery.

Higher education

In the U.S., college and university textbooks are chosen by the professor teaching the course, or by the department as a whole. Students are typically responsible for obtaining their own copies of the books used in their courses, although alternatives to owning textbooks, such as textbook rental services and library reserve copies of texts, are available in some instances. In some European countries, such as Sweden or Spain, students attending institutions of higher education pay for textbooks themselves, although higher education is free of charge otherwise. With higher education costs on the rise, many students are becoming sensitive to every aspect of college pricing, including textbooks, which in many cases amount to one tenth of tuition costs. The 2005 Government Accountability Office report on college textbooks said that since the 1980s, textbook and supply prices have risen twice the rate of inflation in the past two decades. A 2005 PIRG study found that textbooks cost students $900 per year, and that prices increased four times the rate of inflation over the past decade. A June 2007 Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance (ACSFA) report, “Turn the Page,” reported that the average U.S. student spends $700–$1000 per year on textbooks. While many groups have assigned blame to publishers, bookstores or faculty, the ACSFA also found that assigning blame to any one party—faculty, colleges, bookstores or publishers—for current textbook costs is unproductive and without merit. The report called on all parties within the industry to work together to find productive solutions, which included a movement toward
open textbook An open textbook is a textbook licensed under an open license, and made available online to be freely used by students, teachers and members of the public. Many open textbooks are distributed in either print, e-book, or audio formats that may be do ...
s and other lower-cost digital solutions. Textbook prices are considerably higher in law school. Students ordinarily pay close to $200 for case books consisting of cases available free online.

Textbook bias on controversial topics

In cases of history, science, current events, and political textbooks, "the writer might be biased towards one way or another. Topics such as actions of a country, presidential actions, and scientific theories are common potential biases".

See also

John Amos Comenius John Amos Comenius (; cs, Jan Amos Komenský; pl, Jan Amos Komeński; german: Johann Amos Comenius; Latinized: ''Ioannes Amos Comenius''; 28 March 1592 – 15 November 1670) was a Czech philosopher, pedagogue and theologian who is consider ...
- Czech
philosopher A philosopher is a person who practices or investigates philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philosophos, meaning 'lover of wisdom'. The coining of the term has been attributed to the Greek th ...
, pedagogue and
theologian Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries. It occupies itself with the unique content of analyzing the ...
who is credited by some with introducing pictorial textbooks *
Orbis Pictus ''Orbis Pictus'', or ''Orbis Sensualium Pictus'' (''Visible World in Pictures''), is a textbook for children written by Czech educator John Amos Comenius and published in 1658. It was the first widely used children's textbook with pictures ...
- 1658 textbook by
Comenius John Amos Comenius (; cs, Jan Amos Komenský; pl, Jan Amos Komeński; german: Johann Amos Comenius; Latinized: ''Ioannes Amos Comenius''; 28 March 1592 – 15 November 1670) was a Czech philosopher, pedagogue and theologian who is consider ...
, one of the first books with pictures for children * Casebook - A special type of textbook used in law schools in the United States. * Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. - 2013 decision of the US Supreme Court regarding textbook resale * Japanese textbook controversy * Pakistani textbooks controversy * NCERT textbook controversy * Kanawha County textbook controversy * Sourcebook – collection of texts, often used in social sciences and humanities in the United States *
Workbook Workbooks are paperback A paperback (softcover, softback) book is one with a thick paper or paperboard cover, and often held together with glue rather than stitches or staples. In contrast, hardcover (hardback) books are bound with cardb ...
- Usually filled with practice problems, where the answers can be written directly in the book. * Problem book - A textbook, usually graduate level, organized as a series of problems and full solutions. *
Open textbook An open textbook is a textbook licensed under an open license, and made available online to be freely used by students, teachers and members of the public. Many open textbooks are distributed in either print, e-book, or audio formats that may be do ...
- A textbook licensed under an open copyright license, and made available online to be freely used * List of medical textbooks * List of textbooks on classical mechanics and quantum mechanics *
List of textbooks in electromagnetism The study of electromagnetism in higher education, as a fundamental part of both physics and engineering, is typically accompanied by textbooks devoted to the subject. The American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teacher ...
List of textbooks in thermodynamics and statistical mechanics A list of notable textbooks in thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, arranged by category and date. Only or mainly thermodynamics * * * * * * Both thermodynamics and statistical mechanics * * * 2e Kittel, Charles; and Kroemer, Herb ...


Further reading

* Baier, Kylie, et al. "College students’ textbook reading, or not." ''American Reading Forum Annual Yearbook'' Vol. 31. 2011
* Berkeley, Sheri, et al. "Are History Textbooks More "Considerate" After 20 Years?." ''Journal of Special Education'' (2014) 47#4 PP: 217-230. * Buczynski, James A. "Faculty begin to replace textbooks with "freely" accessible online resources." ''Internet Reference Services Quarterly'' (2007) 11#4 pp: 169-179. * Campbell, Alex, and Mr Flint. "New Digital Tools Let Professors Tailor Their Own Textbooks for Under $20 And that's just one option, along with mix-and-match Web sites from big publishers and libraries of open-source content." ''Chronicle of Higher Education'' (October 9, 2011)
* Carbaugh, Robert, and Koushik Ghosh. "Are college textbooks priced fairly?." ''Challenge'' (2005) 48#5 pp: 95–112. * * Chiappetta, Eugene L., and David A. Fillman. "Analysis of five high school biology textbooks used in the United States for inclusion of the nature of science." ''International Journal of Science Education'' (2007) 29#15 pp: 1847–1868. * Doering, Torsten, Luiz Pereira, and L. Kuechler. "The use of e-textbooks in higher education: A case study." ''Berlin (Germany): E-Leader'' (2012)
* Elliott, David L., and Arthur Woodward, eds. ''Textbooks and schooling in the United States'' Vol. 89. NSSE, 1990. * Kahveci, Ajda. "Quantitative analysis of science and chemistry textbooks for indicators of reform: A complementary perspective." ''International Journal of Science Education'' (2010) 32#11 pp: 1495–1519. * Koulaidis, Vasilis, and Anna Tsatsaroni. "A pedagogical analysis of science textbooks: How can we proceed?." ''Research in Science Education'' (1996) 26#1 pp: 55–71. * Liang, Ye, and William W. Cobern. "Analysis of a Typical Chinese High School Biology Textbook Using the AAAS Textbook Standards." (2013)
* * Richardson, Paul W. "Reading and writing from textbooks in higher education: a case study from Economics." Studies in Higher Education (2004) 29#4: 505–521
on Australia * Roediger III, Henry L. "Writing Textbooks: Why Doesn’t It Count?." ''Observer'' (2004) 17#

* Silver, Lawrence S., Robert E. Stevens, and Kenneth E. Clow. "Marketing professors’ perspectives on the cost of college textbooks: a pilot study." ''Journal of Education for Business'' (2012) 87#1 pp: 1-6. * Stone, Robert W., and Lori J. Baker-Eveleth. "Students’ intentions to purchase electronic textbooks." ''Journal of Computing in Higher Education'' (2013) 25#1 pp: 27-47. * Weiten, Wayne. "Objective features of introductory psychology textbooks as related to professors' impressions." ''Teaching of Psychology'' (1988) 15#1 pp: 10–16.

External links

Textbooks used in Mexico in preschool, primary, secondary and high school education

Historic textbooks used in Mexico in primary school from 1960 to 2013
{{Authority control Books by type Textbook business Educational materials