The continued rise in textbook costs is not a new topic, but one that is continues to rise in the minds of professors throughout the country. Professors who once chose texts by currency and relevance are now faced with reviewing materials that must be affordable, too. "The goal in every professor's mind is getting the best material and the best book to provide a quality education," said Samuel Dunietz, a research and policy analyst for the American Assn. of University Professors. "But I think they are becoming more mindful that it's a potential obstacle to getting a quality education if a student doesn't have the money and they just may not buy the books” (Rivera, 2014).
“Between 2002 and 2013, the price of college textbooks rose 82% — nearly three times the rate of inflation, according to a recent study by the Government Accountability Office” (Weisbaum, 2014). To offset the cost, students are looking for more affordable ways to obtain the texts, but this is not always possible. Some choose to not purchase the text all together and are knowingly accepting the risk of a lower grade to avoid paying for the textbook as reported by advocacy group U.S. PIRG," (Weisbaum, 2014).
Many faculty members are looking to “complete” custom books – those that draw upon a variety of publishers so as to choose the optimal readings – and then add online resources, often times free, as a way to replace their typical required textbook from a single publisher. “Consumer advocates believe the solution is to expand the market for "open textbooks." These books are written by faculty and peer-reviewed, just like traditional books” (Weisbaum, 2014) but they don’t have limitations of the traditional publishing world.
Creating affordable custom materials is not a new idea; professors have been creating materials through companies like XanEdu for decades. What may be changing is a shift from viewing custom materials as ancillary to viewing custom materials as a solution to the cost barriers which are currently undermining access to education. Scott Montgomery, Bookstore Manager at Harvard University states, “It is a pleasure to work with XanEdu. Their knowledge of the industry and understanding of the academic community is excellent. They are very responsive to our faculty, staff, and students.”
Irene Duranczyk, a University of Minnesota professor, states, “Students are very, very appreciative of being assigned a textbook that didn't break the bank," (Weisbaum, 2014). Professors are beginning to think the same way as accounting professor Steven Filling states, "When you look at student debt, it's something we need to do" (Rivera, 2014).