College textbook prices have risen 1,041% since 1977

College textbook prices have risen 1,041% since 1977

Students hitting the college bookstore this fall will get a stark lesson in economics before they’ve cracked open their first chapter. Textbook prices are soaring. Some experts say it’s because they’re sold like drugs.

According to NBC’s review of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, textbook prices have risen over three times the rate of inflation from January 1977 to June 2015, a 1,041 percent increase.

“They’ve been able to keep raising prices because students are ‘captive consumers.’ They have to buy whatever books they’re assigned,” said Nicole Allen, a spokeswoman for the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition.

In some ways, this is similar to a pharmaceutical sales model where the publishers spend their time wooing the decision makers to adopt their product. In this case, it’s professors instead of doctors.

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